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An old 'un, but a good 'un: amazing, vibrant photographs, of Russia before the Great War. If you haven't seen these before, you should!
Some pretty pictures of parachutes for light aeroplanes, designed to protect the 'plane (and, presumably, its inhabitants) if something goes Bad And Wrong. There are, of course, certain emergencies for which the parachute won't help. Cf. Philip Greenspun's discussion of what sort of aeroplane you should buy; and something from those nutty guys at Armadillo Aerospace:
I tried to buy a new airplane parachute from BRSI last year, but they wouldn't sell me one after I told them what it was for.
... he mused that she was much like a sweet ripe juicy peach, except for her not being a fuzzy three-inch sphere produced by a tree with pink blossoms and that she had internal organs and could talk.
The winners for the 2002 Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest have been announced.
Here's an interesting one: Zimbabwe is refusing to accept some food shipments from the United States because the maize may be contaminated with genetically modified organisms. Other countries in the region are also suspicious of contamination of their crops. See also this story from a Zimbabwean web site.
What is your ecological footprint?
If everyone in the World lived lived like you we would need 2.9 Planets to support global consumption.
-- well, that's not too bad, I suppose. Putting in values for an `average' United States citizen results in about twice that. Pity there's no information on how it's calculated.
... or, the Victorians had none. This was one of the plans for the Albert Memorial; apparently, it was abandoned on grounds of cost, rather than on the more plausible basis that it would have been the ugliest thing ever built.
Mr. David Lepper: ... I am concerned that the Bill might not prevent obstruction such as that perpetrated by Mr. van Hoogstraten because it does not provide a right to require the removal of buildings that obstruct rights of way. It is a building that obstructs part of the right of way on the van Hoogstraten estate.
That is a point of detail, but it is of local concern to me, to my constituents and, I am sure, to Mr. van Hoogstraten. I believe that he was once one of my constituents, but thankfully he is one no longer.
Mr. David Taylor: Where has he gone then?
Mr. Lepper: I hope, as I am sure my constituents do, that he is incarcerated in his mausoleum.
Here is the gigantic and hideous house which he is building in Sussex. Or a map. It has a frontage longer than Buckingham Palace and contains a mausoleum which is intended to last 5,000 years. Long may he rest in it -- and soon....
BBC News has buggered up its web design. It now has cookies and stupid forms to try to figure out which part of the world you're in, and, worst of all, the `low graphics' version now has no graphics at all, so in order to view the photos on the site you need the `graphical' version which is full of offensive web design and does its best to set the font size to something tiny and unreadable. Idiots.
Lord Archer is certainly not appealing.
I finally got a reply to my most recent EUCD letter. The reply doesn't really say anything, but I'm not going to send another letter, for fear that I'll wind up on a register of people who annoy their MPs too much. Come the revolution....
``Features a picture of a woman crucifying a harp.''
Does your country's flag fail the test?
Whatever happened to...
[Oliver North] is also the president of Freedom Alliance, a non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting the principles of individual liberty, a strong defense and traditional morality in national policy.
David Blunkett, on the Today programme this morning (no, I don't get all my information from the Today programme, just most of it) stated that, in Lambeth, where the Metropolitan Police has adopted a more-sensible-than-usual policy on marijuana-related offences, the number of crack cocaine dealers arrested by police has risen by 10%. Since, he says, 75% of crack cocaine addicts support their habits by theft, this is bound to have an impact on street crime, by which he presumably means that there will be fewer muggings.
Forgive me for seeming sceptical, but surely decreasing the number of crack dealers will make crack more expensive, so that addicts will need to steal more, rather than less, to obtain their drugs? This seems a pretty basic point, and I'd like to see somebody in authority address it....
It's a weird experience, crawling over the guts of one of the marvels of the atomic age, smelling the thing....
Compare and contrast: Plant.
Turns out my extreme religo-phobia is logically consistent. How do I know? A CGI script told me.
Slate is rather good, although it is part of the Microsoft empire, so its writings should be taken with a pinch of salt where they impinge on Microsoft's spheres of activity. The index of professional cartoonists is also excellent, though of course its definition of `political cartoons from around the world' is `sometimes we put one in from Iowa'.
Explainer (the URL may not work, because it has session token information in it; nobody's accusing Microsoft of being able to build web sites) isn't as good as The Straight Dope -- for a start, it's not as funny -- but it's worth a read.
All in all, not Salon, but then Microsoft isn't going bust, either.
Q: Where does Emile Zola go to relax?
A: A J'Acuzzi.
-- Martin Beckford.
I just finished reading `Warday', by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka. It's a novel about, roughly, the effects upon the United States of a limited nuclear war in 1988, in the form of a travelogue written by two writers touring the country five years later. It's frightening, though the underlying premises are somewhat implausible.
Its most significant deficiency, as in Brendan Dubois's Cuban-missile-crisis-goes-horribly-wrong novel `Resurrection Day', is that Europe is not directly affected by the war, despite the fact that typical USSR war plans throughout the Cold War were of the form ``nuke 'em 'til they glow, then shoot 'em in the dark''. And would the Russians really want a resurgent Europe on their doorsteps whilst they clamber out from under the rubble and set about the task of rebuilding socialism? This is explained away in the book by suggesting that the European nations have a secret treaty with the USSR whereby they disarm United States forces based on their territories and then sit around looking sweet and innocent saying `we're nice people, please don't bomb us'. Which is fine, except that I'm sure it wouldn't have worked. After all, those missiles weren't going to justify themselves....
Anyway, the suspension of disbelief is probably necessary in order to introduce the plot elements which make Warday work: we discover, for instance, that the United States is swarming with medical relief teams from Britain and agricultural specialists from Japan. If the rest of the world was gently glowing toast, there wouldn't be much to write about. (Or on.) For the same reason, the authors have the Russians bomb only three cities: Washington, DC, New York, and their own home town, San Antonio in Texas; I suppose that the urge to do this when writing post-apocalyptic fiction may be overwhelming....
As with many novels of this genre, much of its strength derives from passing references which hint at how things have changed. Oil, for instance, is sold in the United States through `British and Israeli agents'; we are intended, I think, to assume that the other Middle Eastern countries have been subordinated to Israeli interests. (Of course, the problem here is that there's no reason to suppose that Israel, with the United States shattered, would be able to do this. Suspension of disbelief again, I suppose.) A huge report on the state of US agriculture `may be purchased for $0.25 from the Department of Agriculture, Los Angeles, California'. Families toil with Geiger counters and lead-lined vacuum cleaners to dispose of `hot' fallout particles in areas downwind of bombed missile bases. Etc.
Another problem is the notion that the outside world, despite being in an economic depression because of the collapse of trade with the US, is much more technologically advanced than the world of 1988. Now, admittedly, they did write the thing in 1984, and perhaps they would be reasonable to expect that by 1993 there would be magnetic-levitation trains running scheduled services in Japan -- perhaps within the realms of possibility -- and in Britain -- which is ridiculous: they haven't even figured out how to bolt the rails together here yet. But the idea that all this would have happened with the economy in the toilet seems completely unreasonable. However, I think that the authors have a bit of a thing about `big technology', since the original cause of the war is the deployment by the United States of parts of a working missile defence system. I suppose in 1984 missile defence probably still looked sort of vaguely plausible....
Anyway, it's well written, and there's good attention to detail and numerous passages written as interviews with survivors of the war, which are good.
I'd give a link to buy the thing, but it's out of print. You could try Ebay, I suppose.
This is all done with wwwitter.
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