July 31, 2009

Mattikhan Lumley View

The Gurkhas have honoured Joanna Lumley by naming a sacred hill after their best ambassador and advocate to Her Majesty's government.

For a woman the people of Nepal regard as a goddess, no place was more fitting for Joanna Lumley to visit than a hill where many deities are worshipped. But the 6,000ft hill south of the town of Pokhara now has even greater significance for the 63-year-old actress - because it has been named after her. Filled with gratitude for the untiring work she has done for retired gurkhas by winning them the right to live in England, the old warriors and their supporters have named the hill Mattikhan Lumley View.


Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Let's start with what is and move on to what ought

Given the complexity and scale of America's health care it is difficult for the lay person to come to grips with the system as it is let alone make an informed judgment as to the system as it ought to be. Dr John Barrasso and Dr Tom Coburn are in the enviable position of being able to offer expert opinion on both health care and public policy as both men are MDs and United States Senators.

Senate Doctors Show: Senator John Barrasso, M.D., and Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., are seeking your questions as Congress debates health care reform. We want you to be a part of this important debate. Send us your questions and comments by e-mail, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter. Senators Barrasso and Coburn will respond to some of them in future episodes, which air every Tuesday and Thursday at 5 pm EST.

Both men are Republicans and, obviously, this will incline them toward market based solutions. Whatever your particular political inclinations it seems to me their views merit more attention than many legislators found time to lend to a health care bill most supporters could not be bothered to read.

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM

Wojciech Kilar: Trędowata waltz

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

July 30, 2009

It's in our power

I am pleased to note the provenience of the engines powering the new Predator C "Avenger". Pictures suggest it may be stealthier than its predecessors too.

The pictures reveal a stealthy design powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545B; the same engine that powers the Cessna Citation XLS business jet. The UAV's 20m (66ft) wingspan is swept at 17°, allowing a maximum speed of over 400kt (740km/h), General Atomics says. Operating altitude can exceed 60,000ft, the company adds.
Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Anak Krakatoa redux


An amateur photographer has captured new images of the re-awakening of the world's most famous volcano. In a breathtaking series Marco Fulle, who specialises in shots of comets, has photographed the Anak Krakatoa against a backdrop of constellations such as the Big Dipper.

These stunning pictures show the latest activity during the rebirth of the infamous volcano which holds a long-standing record for causing the highest number of human deaths ever - a staggering 36,000 in 1883.
Posted by the Flea at 08:42 AM | Comments (1)

Nancy Ajram: Lamset Ed

Nancy Ajram - Lamset Ed_-_by kibo_-_
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Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

July 29, 2009

Kim Jong-il's love of the people in the military-first era

It is a small stand against incalculable evil but if Italy's move to block the sale of two yachts gets up Kim Jong Il's nose I am all in favour. Also encouraging, in a roundabout way, is news of a new North Korean "luxury" resort hotel. Note to enthusiastic undergraduates, sheltered academics and one Manchurian president: This is the best statism has to offer.

North Korea on Monday celebrated the completion of what it has hailed as a "world-class" hotel in the Majon resort area in Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province, North Korean Central Broadcasting reported Tuesday.

The broadcast said the Majon Hotel "is equipped with top-class accommodation and recreation facilities such as an indoor swimming pool, a steam sauna, a public bath, and even a beach resort."

An accomplishment that could be matched and exceeded by an average Korean immigrant family to Canada with a bank loan and dream.

Brutally related: North Korea Economy Watch hosts the "most authoritative" map of North Korea on Google Earth. The map includes a baffling array of mines and monuments making it a bit tricky to find the concentration camps, test sites and military facilities formerly viewable only by intelligence analysts and now available for your cubicle-based perusal.

This Google Earth project offers an extensive mapping of North Korea’s economic, cultural, political, and military infrastructures. Through the topic menu, users of this program have easy access to geographical information on North Korea’s agriculture projects, aviation facilities, communications, hospitals, hotels, energy infrastructure, financial services, leisure destinations, manufacturing facilities, markets, mines, religious locations, restaurants, schools, and transportation infrastructure. In addition to locations of economic interest, this map also displays anti-aircraft locations, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Northern Line Limit Line (NLL), incarceration facilities, political monuments, political residencies, military bases, and nuclear facilities.
Posted by the Flea at 08:04 AM | Comments (1)

The Saturdays: If This Is Love

Nice to hear that hook take on a second life.

The Saturdays - If This Is Love [Official Music Video]
Uploaded by TheSaturdays. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.
Posted by the Flea at 07:47 AM | Comments (1)

July 28, 2009

Drive your way

Lockheed Martin teaming up with Hyundai to build Aegis warships does conjure an amusing image until one stops to consider Hyundai Heavy Industries is the largest ship builder on Earth.

"The idea is that the partnership would make it possible to build high profit-margin warships at a reasonable price," said [Hyundai Heavy spokesman] Cho.

No word on if the warranty covers ten years or 100000 miles...

And another thing: Also delivery bang for bucks, the B-2 Spirit is nearly ready to deploy the 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP).

The MOP is a GPS-guided weapon containing more than 5,300 pounds of conventional explosives inside a 20.5-foot long bomb body of hardened steel. It is designed to penetrate dirt, rock and reinforced concrete to reach enemy bunker or tunnel installations. The B-2 will be capable of carrying two MOPs, one in each weapons bay.

By a happy coincidence, I can think of all sorts of dirt, rock and reinforced concrete that needs shifting.

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM

Moloko: Dominoid

Posted by the Flea at 08:33 AM

July 27, 2009

EVE Online ISK

Crisper considers the broader implications of the second life of the ISK (Icelandic króna) as the official medium of exchange for EVE Online. Brilliant. Seriously, I love this.

EVE Online has its own in-game currency. Virtually all such games do. And with in-game currency comes real-world speculation - because if there's one thing every multiplayer internet game develops, it's a market in which people with real-world money can acquire whatever they want in the game by simply paying someone else for it. Warcraft has "gold farmers", players who play the game for no other reason than to amass wealth that is then sold in huge batches for cash through eBay-like channels. It's their job - quite literally in many cases, especially in China, where entire facilities are staffed around the clock with game-players who play all day and all night to earn the rare items and mountains of money, so that their boss can then sell it all to Westerners who just want to win without actually playing first.

The in-game currency of EVE Online is the ISK. That's right, the Icelandic króna. And where most multiplayer games have attempted to ban the translation of in-game assets to and from real-world money, EVE Online has not only permitted it but actively embraced it - so much so that daily speculation on world/game financial leverage is conducted openly on the official game web boards. As a result, the EVE Online ISK has remained fairly stable against virtually all the real currencies of the world for a few years now, fluctuating but not spiking, not crashing. There are people out there making an income, a real-life income, just handling the trades on the "floor".

All of which is to say: Iceland has collapsed so thoroughly that at this point, its only economically viable export may very well be an internet spaceship game, and that internet spaceship game's króna is for all intents and purposes a more real and valid and valuable currency than the actual country's actual money.

Time for Canada to consider turning to the gold standard.

Posted by the Flea at 08:48 AM


Quite probably the greatest film ever conceived (with a hat tip to the Neighbour of the Flea) (and an emphatic NSFW/taste-level warning).

Posted by the Flea at 08:47 AM | Comments (1)

July 26, 2009

Destroyer of the enemy

With INS Arihant, India's first indigenously-built nuclear-powered submarine - and its existing land- and air-based capabilities - the world's largest democracy takes a big step toward a second-strike capable nuclear triad.

With Sunday's induction, India has made its entry into an elite club of nations comprising the US, Russia, France, the UK and China which possess capabilities to develop nuclear submarine.

"On Sunday, we join a select group of five nations who possess capacity to build a nuclear-powered submarine," the Prime Minister noted.Code-named Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), Arihant will carry 'Sagarika' (K-15) missile that has a range of 700 kms.

As India has declared "no first use" of nuclear weapons, the country's weapons system must survive a first strike for retaliation. Therefore, Arihant's primary weapon is stealth as it can lurk in ocean depths of half a kilometre or more and fire its missiles from under the sea.

With the caveat that the Indians still have a lot of work to do to make this thing work.

Related: India is set to begin construction on its third Antarctic research station.

Posted by the Flea at 10:08 AM

To shout the truth where words lie

Noted anthropologist, authority on nonverbal and inter-cultural communication and veteran of the U.S. Army serving in Europe and the Philippines, Edward T. Hall has died in Santa Fe.

Hall is a local boy who made good. Born in Webster Groves, Mo., his family moved to Santa Fe in 1927 to a house on Cerrillos Road. He graduated from Santa Fe High School in 1930, then earned a degree in anthropology from the University of Denver in 1936 and a master's degree in anthropology from the University of Arizona in 1938. In between he lived and worked with the Navajo and Hopi for a number of years.

After earning his doctorate degree from Columbia University in 1942, Hall joined the Army and commanded an African American regiment in Europe and the Pacific from 1942 to 1946. In the 1950s he was director of the U.S. State Department's Foreign Service Institute program that prepared diplomats to work in different cultures. He has taught at the University of Denver, Bennington College, the Harvard Business School and Northwestern University, among other places.
Posted by the Flea at 09:22 AM

Charlie Parker Quintet: 52nd St. Theme

Posted by the Flea at 09:17 AM

July 25, 2009

Virtual AGC and AGS

This project.

The purpose of this project is to provide a computer simulation of the onboard guidance computers used in the Apollo Program's lunar missions, and to generally allow you to learn about these guidance computers. Since this can be quite intimidating, we invite you to look at our "kinder and gentler" introductory page before immersing yourself in the full, gory detail presented by the bulk of the website.

Posted by the Flea at 09:27 PM


The book, 1926.

The book Abeceda (Alphabet) is a composite of experimental poetry, modern dance, graphic design and photomontaged typography, based on a poem by Vitĕzslav Nezval in the order of the letters of the Latin alphabet. Each double page features a set of quatrains facing a sometimes abstracted letter composed of typographic elements and a photograph of the dancer Milca Mayerova.

Posted by the Flea at 09:20 PM

Alla Pugacheva & Maxim Galkin: Be or Do Not Be

Posted by the Flea at 09:17 PM

July 24, 2009

Gryffindor vs Slytherin

An intriguing way to showcase clothes and accessories from which I gather Alexander McQueen Satin panel pumps are the norm at Hogwarts regardless of house affiliation.

Posted by the Flea at 07:53 AM

Nelly Furtado and Charlotte Church: Crazy

Charlotte Church rocks it like she's Anne Boleyn. Hot.

Posted by the Flea at 07:51 AM | Comments (1)

July 23, 2009

Wouldn't a dictatorship be simpler?

Ireland’s foreign minister Micheál Martin (the "á" indicates authentic Irishness) makes a telling half-joke about Ireland and the European Union.

Daniel Hannan elaborates.

I don’t want to pick on the EU. The fact is that no supra-national state has been a successful democracy. You can hold different peoples together within an authoritarian system: the Habsburg or Ottoman empires, Yugoslavia, the USSR. But you generally find that, the moment the subject peoples of those states are given the vote, they opt for separation.

Indeed, in order to keep an essentially undemocratic project in operation, the 27 member states are obliged to surrender a measure of their internal democracy, too. It’s the phenomenon I call the EU’s “hideous strength“.

Thus, in the case of Ireland, the Pro-Treaty Forces have secured changes in the referendum rules, which used to provide for equal airtime for both sides. This means, of course, that all future Irish referendums, not just those on European integration, will be less balanced. Thus does the the EU serve to vitiate democracy within its participating members.

Hey, isn't Canada a "supra-national state"? Just checking.

Posted by the Flea at 08:08 AM

An obscenity

Instead of languishing in prison - or an unmarked grave - IRA Brighton bomber Patrick Magee has been invited to participate in the official commemoration marking the 25th anniversary the bombing.

Magee, now lives in Belfast and has publicly regretted the loss of life caused by the bomb but has defended his reasons for planting it.

He has yet to decide whether or not to travel to Brighton.

I will quote from the comments.

Yeah, great! On Sept 11, 2026 let's invite Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Osama Bin Laden to the 25th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. We'll invite the survivors and relatives of the 3000 murdered victims and have a grand ole time. What in God's name is happening to our civilization?
Posted by the Flea at 08:07 AM

Blizzard Entertainment®’s award-winning Warcraft®

I have resisted any engagement with World of Warcraft on the grounds my life is already chockablock with nonsense and I suspect I would enjoy the game a bit too much. Even so, I expect I shall see the movie now Sam Raimi is set to direct.

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures announced today that Sam Raimi has signed on to direct the eagerly-anticipated major motion picture based on Blizzard Entertainment®’s award-winning Warcraft® universe. Raimi has, in the course of his career, clearly demonstrated a genius for developing and adapting existing fictional universes for mainstream audiences while staying true to the spirit of the original content.
Posted by the Flea at 08:02 AM

Anna Phoebe: 99 Lives

Posted by the Flea at 08:01 AM

July 22, 2009

2NE1: I Don't Care

Catchy. This one goes with a superfluous shout out to the Neighbour of the Flea.

Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM

July 21, 2009

He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach


David Tennant may play Bilbo Baggins in the forthcoming film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.

Tennant leads a list of stars, including James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe, vying to play Bilbo. The film version of The Hobbit is based on Tolkien's children's book prequel to The Lord Of The Rings hit series.

Much as I think she would have preferred Ian Holm reprise his role from the recent film adaptation of LotR, I believe my Mum would have approved of Tennant stepping into Holm's shoes (if not Bilbo's, obviously).

Posted by the Flea at 08:37 AM | Comments (4)

Medieval Soldier Database

Did your ancestors fight at Agincourt? War records of 250,000 medieval soldiers who fought in the Hundred Years War between 1369 and 1453 have gone online at the Medieval Soldier Database.

It includes the names of archers who served with Henry V at Agincourt, meaning you could see if any of your relatives helped rout the French in the famous 1415 battle. The Medieval Soldier Database contains full profiles of individual soldiers, with muster roll evidence allowing researchers to piece together details of soldiers’ lives.
Posted by the Flea at 08:34 AM | Comments (2)

Something has to give

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard points to Ireland as a harbinger of things to come for the "gold-plated state structures" of the West (including Japan).

Following his claims about demographic pressure on those structures, I think we may not have to replicate "the left"''s long march through the institutions after all. Having bankrupted their countries societies, reality will lead to a concentrating of the mind as the dialectic does its thing.

Events have already forced Premier Brian Cowen to carry out the harshest assault yet seen on the public services of a modern Western state. He has passed two emergency budgets to stop the deficit soaring to 15pc of GDP. They have not been enough. The expert An Bord Snip report said last week that Dublin must cut deeper, or risk a disastrous debt compound trap.

A further 17,000 state jobs must go (equal to 1.25m in the US), though unemployment is already 12pc and heading for 16pc next year.

Education must be cut 8pc. Scores of rural schools must close, and 6,900 teachers must go. "The attacks outlined in this report would represent an education disaster and light a short fuse on a social timebomb", said the Teachers Union of Ireland.

Nobody is spared. Social welfare payments must be cut 5pc, child benefit by 20pc. The Garda (police), already smarting from a 7pc pay cut, may have to buy their own uniforms. Hospital visits could cost £107 a day, etc, etc.

"Something has to give," said Professor Colm McCarthy, the report's author. "We're borrowing €400m (£345m) a week at a penalty interest."


Posted by the Flea at 08:33 AM

Klaatu: So Said the Lighthouse Keeper

Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM

July 20, 2009

Girls Aloud: Something Kinda Ooh

Blame my new found Cheryl Cole fixation.

Girls aloud-something kinda oooh
Uploaded by 1450luna. - Watch more music videos, in HD!
Posted by the Flea at 07:21 AM | Comments (1)

July 19, 2009

Moscow Symphony - Arthur Arnold, conductor: Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade

Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM

July 18, 2009

Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure

The Black Sisters offer their assessment of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in Part 1 of the following movie review (spoilers, also pincers).

Posted by the Flea at 12:41 PM

Gowan: Moonlight Desires

Posted by the Flea at 09:53 AM

July 17, 2009


The Secret Palestinian Jews: These are the images the elders used to make, this is the Star of David, but they would hide them... (via Solomonia).

Posted by the Flea at 06:57 AM

The concept of greatness is irritating and threatening

To think I came back to Canada. I blame both dimorphism and the process of sexual reproduction.

And I still wish someone would explain Mark Steyn's "Canadian" accent to me. It deserves to be sea-lifted from Lebanon and attacked on talk radio as a Canadian accent of convenience (via Five Feet of Fury)

Canada has done everything David Rakoff, Sarah McNally and Melissa Auf der Maur want—not least in their own fields. It taxes convenience-store clerks to subsidize books and writing and publishing and that wonderful “national conversation about literature like a big book club” in which everyone’s membership dues are automatically deducted from your bank account whether you go to the meetings or not. And still Mr. Rakoff and Ms. McNally and Ms. Auf der Maur leave. They applaud the creation of a “just” and “equitable” society, and then, like almost all the members of the Order of Canada you’ve actually heard of, they move out. Despite commending the virtues of a social “safety net” for you and everyone else, they personally can only fulfill their potential somewhere else, without one. Usually in a country beginning with “Great” and ending in “Satan.”

Update: Mark Steyn's mystery accent was resolved by email. Best left a mystery here though. :-)

Posted by the Flea at 06:54 AM

Melissa Auf der Maur: Bang Bang

Posted by the Flea at 06:48 AM

July 16, 2009

A legitimate love letter to Star Wars fans


A perhaps unanticipated side effect of the society of the spectacle is its sheer scope and consequently the prospect I will never hear of - let alone enjoy - vast swathes of the nonsense that interests me.

Take Fanboys, for example.

It's the Halloween party they've all been waiting for, to have fun with friends and hang out with fellow Star Wars fans and partners in crime. However, events take a turn when one of their bunch who long ago outgrew his old gang and took on adult responsibilities is suddenly in their midst again. Reconnecting is not easy. But soon, Eric, Windows, Hutch and Zoe realize that Linus will not live long enough to experience what's been on their minds for ages: The long-awaited theatrical release of Star Wars - Episode I, which is still several months away. Linus once again suggests to his friends what he's been scheming since fifth grade: Breaking into Skywalker Ranch, this time to steal a print of the movie. Crazy, right? But it might be the only way for Linus to see the movie before he dies. So as insane as it sounds, they take Hutch's van and embark on a mission to drive across half the country to the Ranch.

The trailer is underwhelming but a photo of Kristen Bell as Slave Leia is all the advance marketing they would have needed. Note to Hollywood publicity machines: Get on that.

Always read the fine print (especially if it is in bold): Kristen Bell faux lesbian dance below the fold.

Posted by the Flea at 08:53 AM | Comments (5)

One word answer: Berzerkers

Stephen Hawking asks why the galaxy is not crawling with self-designing mechanical or biological life forms.

"I discount suggestions that UFO's contain beings from outer space. I think any visits by aliens, would be much more obvious, and probably also, much more unpleasant."

Hawking continues: "What is the explanation of why we have not been visited? One possibility is that the argument, about the appearance of life on Earth, is wrong. Maybe the probability of life spontaneously appearing is so low, that Earth is the only planet in the galaxy, or in the observable universe, in which it happened. Another possibility is that there was a reasonable probability of forming self reproducing systems, like cells, but that most of these forms of life did not evolve intelligence."
Intelligence, Hawking believes contrary to our human-centric existece, may not have any long-term survival value. In comparison the microbial world, will live on, even if all other life on Earth is wiped out by our actions. Hawking's main insight is that intelligence was an unlikely development for life on Earth, from the chronology of evolution: "It took a very long time, two and a half billion years, to go from single cells to multi-cell beings, which are a necessary precursor to intelligence. This is a good fraction of the total time available, before the Sun blows up. So it would be consistent with the hypothesis, that the probability for life to develop intelligence, is low. In this case, we might expect to find many other life forms in the galaxy, but we are unlikely to find intelligent life."

Two further considerations offer an alternative conjecture. Intelligent life arises but is wiped out as soon as it gets noticed. Only quiet species are moving between the stars...

The corollary of this line of thinking being the consequent choice between a mad race to perfect weapons against the hypothetical death machines on their way or a retreat into the apparent safety of a new Dark Age. I suspect the choice is going to be made for us.

Posted by the Flea at 08:43 AM

Tenpole Tudor: Swords of a 1000 Men

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM | Comments (1)

July 15, 2009

I detect a weakness in his plan

"I want to adopt," says Ryan Reynolds as wife Scarlett Johansson stars in sultry advert (pictured at link).

Reclining on a sofa, wrapped in leopard print, Scarlett Johansson certainly doesn't look like a mother-to-be. But the sultry actress may soon be adding to her family, her husband Ryan Reynolds suggested.

Reynolds, who married 24-year-old Scarlett in a very private ceremony in Canada last year, told Glamour magazine he planned to adopt.

A much better idea leaps to mind.

Posted by the Flea at 08:23 AM

Robert Henke + Christopher Bauder: Atom

"Robert Henke and Christopher Bauder's poetic music and light sculpture, executed in a cloud of moving, illuminated balloons, forms a three-dimensional matrix coordinated with live music..."

Gets thumpy in part deux.

Posted by the Flea at 08:04 AM

July 14, 2009

Engorgio is emphasized on the second syllable


You may have felt a disturbance in the Force as legions of fanboys cried out at once and were silent. Hard on the news of Marilyn Manson's latest symptom, the Flea has learned Emma Watson may be in line to be Mansonized (hat tip to Agent Bedhead, who doubts the rumour's veracity).

HARRY POTTER star EMMA WATSON is embracing her dark side by taking on a role in shock rocker MARILYN MANSON's creepy movie musical, according to reports.

The 19 year old will don her dancing shoes to play a princess in Manson's as yet untitled Gothic musical, a retelling of the Cinderella fairytale.

In fairness, this could have been yet another Tim Burton snoozefest so, you know, small mercies.

Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM | Comments (1)

Make. Give. Sell. Share. Release. Start. Engage. Film.

Create Digital Music posts a handy round-up of Trent Reznor's advice to new artists in light of our skepticism toward Reznor's (proven) give-it-away-and-make-a-mint music production model.

Note to self: Must set up download/check-out interface to my music site...

We’ve all watched and commented on bands like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails releasing free albums and still profiting by them. Will this model still work for new artists, though?

Trent Reznor posted yesterday that the Beastie Boys’ Ill Communication reissue is “how you sell music today”. As a rebuttal to the usual “that only works for established artists” replies, he’s followed this up with an extended post on what artists who haven’t reached the Beasties or NIN level of profile can do to get established.

Reznor's opinion is of direct interest to me, obviously, but I think he is also offering food for thought to anyone trying to have a go with a small business that needs promoting in a newly wired world.

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

Ry Cooder: Vigilante Man

Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM

July 13, 2009

The Larger Agenda

Victor Davis Hanson thinks that while the stimulus package has failed to turn around the economy it may succeed in accomplishing its actual purpose, i.e. to Canadianize the United States.

Note here I mean something quite different from the accustomed notion of “accomplish.” You see, I think the point was never much to build more bike paths on borrowed money or just bail out GM, but rather more to reengineer the tax code, as part of a grander vision of creating a new equality of result in America.

Soon we will all end up after each April 15 about making the same, driving the same sort of cars and using the same sort of mass transit, living in about the same sorts of houses, and having about the same sorts of “‘they’ will take care of it for me” philosophies — all overseen by brilliant, but highly ranked and exempt Platonic Guardians who suffer on our behalf as they jet and limo at breakneck speed ensuring our welfare.

A friend of mine used to say Revenue Canada should send out notices to anyone making fifty thousand or more a year: "Congratulations! You have now achieved your income."

Posted by the Flea at 08:04 AM

Guilty until proven guilty

Theodore Dalrymple - to whom the Flea is a mere padawan of bile - considers the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and its place in our witch trial culture ten years on. RTWT (Dalrymple, not the Inquiry).

The report’s contention was that the mishandled Lawrence case illustrated the “institutional racism” of the London police force. Poor Sir William tied himself in knots trying to explain the notion of institutional racism, relying in part on that great moral authority on race relations, Stokely Carmichael, the onetime “prime minister” of the Black Panthers. As Macpherson admitted, he could point to no actual instance of racist behavior by the officers involved in the case, though evidence of incompetence and delay was abundant. But if he had concluded from the lack of evidence of racist behavior that the police were not racist, he doubtless would have become an object of execration by all the people who think the right thoughts. Thus Macpherson’s redefinition of racism: “Failure to adjust policies and methods to meet the needs of policing a multi-racial society can occur simply because police officers may mistakenly believe that it is legitimate to be ‘colour-blind’ in both individual and team response to the management and investigation of racist crimes.”

On the very next page, however, Sir William quoted approvingly the assertion of an association of black police officers: “Institutional racism leads officers to act, albeit unconsciously, and for the most part unintentionally, and treat others differently because of their ethnicity or culture.” In other words, if you treat people the same, you are racist; but if you treat them differently, you are racist. It is clear that we are here in the realm not of the rule of law but of the Malleus Maleficarum, and that Macpherson is acting not as judge but as witchfinder-general.
Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM

Perpetuum Jazzile: Africa

Give them a couple minutes to warm up their fingers. Hat tip to the Sister of the Flea.

Posted by the Flea at 08:01 AM

July 11, 2009

Brain hacking

Scientists anticipate security problems for neural devices and the possibility of hackers trying to take over your brain.

Some might question why anyone would want to hack into someone else's brain, but the researchers say there's a precedent for using computers to cause neurological harm. In November 2007 and March 2008, malicious programmers vandalized epilepsy support Web sites by putting up flashing animations, which caused seizures in some photo-sensitive patients.

"It happened on two separate occasions," said computer science graduate student Tamara Denning, a co-author on the paper. "It's evidence that people will be malicious and try to compromise peoples' health using computers, especially if neural devices become more widespread."

In some cases, patients might even want to hack into their own neural device. Unlike devices to control prosthetic limbs, which still use wires, many deep brain stimulators already rely on wireless signals. Hacking into these devices could enable patients to "self-prescribe" elevated moods or pain relief by increasing the activity of the brain's reward centers.
Posted by the Flea at 08:07 AM

Marianne Faithfull: I'd Like To Dial Your Number

Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM

July 10, 2009

Aphex Twin: Nannou

Posted by the Flea at 05:31 AM

July 09, 2009

I wish

Posted by the Flea at 07:14 AM

To Heaven By Water

I am not normally one for literary fiction and, thanks to a Telegraph review, am experiencing some trepidation at the prospect of Radio 4's adaptation of Justin Cartwright's To Heaven By Water. Still, I will take whatever clues I can get - fictional, in this case - about this strange business of mortality. Also, Bill Nighy rocks.

Bill Nighy reads from the novel by Justin Cartwright, about a family as they come to terms with the loss of a wife and mother.

Radio 4 will only have each installment of To Heaven by Water available on-line for a few days. Budget your time accordingly.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM

Róisín Murphy: You Know Me Better

I am publishing Murphy's unplugged Covent Garden rendition below the fold. Hot.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM

July 08, 2009

They attacked us. Now it's our turn to attack them.

I am not certain which Biblical aphorism cum admonition covers this one. Quite a few, I expect.

A new wave of violence hit the capital of the Chinese region of Xinjiang today as thousands of angry Han Chinese rampaged through Urumqi, many smashing up Uighur stores and seeking vengeance for Han deaths at the weekend.

The authorities swiftly imposed a curfew on the restive city in an attempt to quell what the government has already described as the worst riots since the foundation of the People's Republic 60 years ago. Police attempted to disperse today's mob with teargas as they headed towards a predominantly Uighur area, but many were still on the streets armed with whatever came to hand: wooden staves, iron bars, metal chains, nunchuks, shovels and axes.

Rioters smashed Uighur restaurants, threw rocks at a mosque and threatened residents of Uighur areas, although moderates in the crowd attempted to restrain them.

"They attacked us. Now it's our turn to attack them," one protester told Reuters. Another said: "We're here to demand security for ourselves. They killed children in cold blood."

"It's your time to suffer," they shouted at some of the five- and six-storey apartment blocks lining Xinfu Road.

In Eastern Europe, that last but one would qualify as a political platform. Fascism is with us. We have forgotten.

Posted by the Flea at 01:24 AM

Spires That in the Sunset Rise: Party Favors in the Snow Party Favors in the Snow Category: Music Tags: Spires That in the Sunset Rise Folk music

Posted by the Flea at 01:23 AM

July 07, 2009

More heresy


News of the "Star Wars" ( <--- these quotation marks indicate derisive sarcasm) live action series suggests we are in for another "chick show" pretending to be science fiction.

Rumours about the pre-production of Star Wars, the live action series, to be shot in Australia, have been confirmed by several inside sources.

The quality and style of writing that will be used will be of the highest quality, and local, and writers will be sourced from outside traditional Science Fiction shows. Several big names within the Australian industry (including writers from the Award-winning Love My Way and the Award-winning Secret Life of Us) have been approached by Star Wars uber-producer, Rick McCallum.

Love My Way and Secret Life of Us can be characterised by the focus on relationships and emotional landscapes (traditional 'chick shows', if you will). Bringing this element into the world of Star Wars sees a marked departure of the final three films and animated Clone Wars, where the primary audience was children.

This throws the new series into a whole new spotlight, and should excite fans of the Star Wars universe looking towards more adult fare.

More solidification of rumour into fact will come as soon as possible.

Here's a thought: Try making science fiction which involves flying fast spaceships, blowing up other fast spaceships and confronting evil aliens. Also, try hiring an English-speaker when you want content for a press pack. The computer generated version lacks a certain I-do-not-know-what.

Nothing against the Star Wars bubble bath pictured above, you understand. I just figured that even granted slow summer traffic another Slave Leia image would qualify as gratuitous.

Related somehow: Drawing Princess Leia in her slave outfit.

Posted by the Flea at 08:28 AM | Comments (1)

Zero 7: Distractions

An emotional landscape for your consideration. Galactic warfare is much simpler by contrast.

Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM

July 06, 2009

Flea Comment Defense System: ACTIVE


With thanks to Agent Bedhead for the inspiration; I would have taken much longer to get round to fixing them otherwise. For those of you who have never dared my comment registration system, it will still be bloody awkward.

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

Siouxsie And The Banshees: Happy House

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

July 04, 2009

The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776


David McCullough: No painting by an American artist has been so familiar to so many people for so very long as John Trumbull's "The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776."

The idea for the painting was hatched by Jefferson and Trumbull in Paris 10 years after the fact, in 1786, while Trumbull was a guest at Jefferson's mansion on the Champs-Élysées. Trumbull, who was living in London at the time, had recently completed two remarkable historic paintings, "The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill" and "The Death of General Montgomery at the Attack on Quebec," and was on fire to do more.

Subjects of "national history, of events of the Revolution," he later wrote, had become "the great objects of my personal life." In the course of a conversation in Jefferson's library, Jefferson drew a floor plan of the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House as he remembered it, and on the opposite side of the same sheet of paper Trumbull made a tiny rough sketch remarkably close to what would turn out to be the final composition.

Canadian Flea-readers will understand I would have marked Dominion Day on July 1 if only such a day yet existed here in "Canada".

Posted by the Flea at 05:48 PM

July 03, 2009

This little joke on Thomas Jefferson

Cryptologist Lawren Smithline cracks a code and solves a mystery that had frustrated generations of Jefferson scholarship.

For more than 200 years, buried deep within Thomas Jefferson's correspondence and papers, there lay a mysterious cipher -- a coded message that appears to have remained unsolved. Until now.

The cryptic message was sent to President Jefferson in December 1801 by his friend and frequent correspondent, Robert Patterson, a mathematics professor at the University of Pennsylvania. President Jefferson and Mr. Patterson were both officials at the American Philosophical Society -- a group that promoted scholarly research in the sciences and humanities -- and were enthusiasts of ciphers and other codes, regularly exchanging letters about them.

In this message, Mr. Patterson set out to show the president and primary author of the Declaration of Independence what he deemed to be a nearly flawless cipher. "The art of secret writing," or writing in cipher, has "engaged the attention both of the states-man & philosopher for many ages," Mr. Patterson wrote. But, he added, most ciphers fall "far short of perfection."
Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM

Alex Gaudino Feat. Shena: Watch Out

Some might object. All I can say is traffic does not generate itself. Comments are still down, sad to say.

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM

July 02, 2009

To thy unhappy coast repair

The UK's aircraft carrier program is now one billion pounds over budget.

Say goodbye to the Royal Navy.

A memorandum from the lead contractors seen by the BBC suggests there will "be a fight for the programme's survival". The memo also discusses ways to cut costs, including the possibility of 400 to 500 redundancies. The Ministry of Defence said it was currently re-costing the programme and accounts would be published in July.

Work on the two warships - HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales - had been delayed in December but was due to begin soon.

By their fruits shall ye know them: Official crime figures show the UK also has a worse rate for all types of violence than the U.S. and even South Africa. Canadian Flea-readers should take little comfort in the news; our violence rate places sixth in the top ten with double the reported rate in the United States. I blame sociology.

Posted by the Flea at 07:47 AM

Tyler Bates: Xerxes' Tent

Posted by the Flea at 07:27 AM

July 01, 2009


Those few of you who have fought your way through my comment defense system will have noticed the system is still down. My apologies. I will take a look under the hood but, frankly, I do not put much hope in making it work. I will see if I can disable them completely if I cannot get them up and running again.

Posted by the Flea at 08:45 AM

Dead Can Dance: The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove

Posted by the Flea at 08:41 AM