Thursday, 17 August 2017

Ship of fools

Admiral Sir Philip Jones is jolly proud of his new toy:
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the nation's future flagship; the embodiment of Britain in steel and spirit. In the years and decades to come, she and her sister ship will demonstrate the kind of nation we are...
And, by jingo, he's right. What better to symbolise the state of the nation than an unwieldy, massively expensive status symbol?

It's a ship specifically and exclusively designed around one of the most misconceived, overpriced, under-performing warplanes in the long, murky history of defence procurement ("The JSF is a terrible fighter, bomber and attacker — and unfit for aircraft carriers").

It's vulnerable to attack, although if the Navy ask the French very nicely, they might help to defend it (in return for borrowing its sister ship occasionally).

And talking of borrowing, the US Marine Corps have told the UK they'll be using its new aircraft carrier to fly their F-35s over the South China Sea on its first deployment (I guess that's only fair - after all, it was the USMC's input that irretrievably screwed up the F-35's design in the first place, so it would be rude not to thank them for saddling the UK with one of the most expensively useless military aircraft of all time).

A ruinously expensive, ill-conceived boast that's supposed to impress the rest of the world but, in reality, only highlights the UK's vulnerability, subservient status and dependence on the good will of others. Truly, HMS Queen Elizabeth is "the embodiment of Britain* in steel"...



*Apologies to Northern Ireland although, to be fair, Northern Ireland will be increasingly easy to miss anyway, now that it's being fitted with an innovative stealth border, as part of an ambitious project that promises to be every bit as trouble-free and successful as the F-35.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Anarchy in the UK (and the USA)

Another day, another entirely predictable "health and safety gone mad" rant from the British press:
"DEATH KNELL FOR COMMON SENSE
Big Ben Silenced for FOUR years to protect workers' hearing ... yes, it's all down to Health and Safety!" screamed the Mail in in a front page headline that tried to leap off the page and make your ears bleed with the sheer volume of its righteous indignation.*

How did we arrive at a place where trying to stop people being deafened at work is seen as an outrage against common sense and all that is holy? Fintan O'Toole traces the knee-jerk antipathy back to the grandaddy of folksy conservative common sense...
...one of the best-known lines delivered by that consummate performer Ronald Reagan as US president, in August 1986 [was]: “I think you all know that I’ve always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

 ...It was a clever, insidious sneer at the very idea of public service: to be “here to help” is to be at best a well-meaning bungler. Government does not enable: it interferes. Regulation is redefined as molestation. Public service is a public nuisance. The freedom to live in squalor or to make money from those who do so is the ultimate value...

 ...If those who seek to govern express derision for government, if they consistently characterise regulation as red tape and action as interference, they destroy the basis of their own authority. Electorates take the hint and aim missiles – Trump, Brexit – at their own institutions: if government is not here to help, why not destroy it?

The right has played with the fire of anarchy, and now both the UK and the US are anarchic states, one in the grip of idiocy, the other of self-destructive fantasy.
If government isn't here to help, what the hell is it for? "Doing mad stuff for no readily apparent reason" seems to be the reply from the children of the Common Sense Revolution.


*Update - the very best headline on the subject came,  as you might expect, from the Daily Mash.



Sunday, 13 August 2017

Soft news story

Another interesting result from Google News. This time it wasn't the pairing of headline and image that looked inappropriate, but the headline itself:
"Levitra soft tabs erfahrung"* ???
Sounds more spammy than your average headline and, sure enough, if you click through on the alleged story, you end up at canadian-pharma dot com:

According to the website, Levita Soft is "a prescription medication for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED)."

Maybe it's just me, but even if the dodgy-looking website didn’t put you off, surely the name of the drug would? Or am I the only person who finds the word "soft" a tad insensitive in this context?



*Google Translate tells me that this is German for "experience."

Update - clicking through on headlines like this is not recommended, unless you want to see more headlines like this in your news feed...

Ukip still existing for some reason

I think that reason might be comedy. Mainly because the remarkable Aidan Powlesland is among the gaggle of fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists now vying for the Ukip leadership. And in a three-way contest for the most ridiculous figure in British politics, Aidan is definitely the only candidate who could beat Lord Buckethead and Jacob Rees-Mogg:
Aidan Powlesland, who is standing for parliament in the rural seat of South Suffolk, told BuzzFeed News he wants to set aside £100 million for "an interstellar colony ship design" and £30 million for an "interstellar nano-probe fleet design" designed to attract the attention of Russian investor Yuri Milner, and will provide a £1 billion prize to any private company that can mine the asteroid belt by 2026.
Asked whether asteroid mining was a priority for most UKIP voters – compared to issues such as immigration controls – Powlesland replied: "I suppose the absence of the centrality of a proposition within a general dialogue doesn’t necessarily mean that the dialogue is heading in the correct direction."

...Powlesland's election leaflet also includes a pledge to cut the welfare cap from £20,000 per household to £10,500, abolishing all residential planning legislation to encourage housebuilding, repealing employment laws that entrench "political correctness" so companies can "hire and fire at will", and stopping road construction – because we will soon all be travelling by flying cars.

Other flagship policies include buying "ten flying aircraft carriers" for the armed forces – apparently reviving the large-scale zeppelin programmes of the 1930s – and investing in electromagnetic-pulse submarines. He would deploy 15,000 British troops close to the Russia's border, although in a symbolic gesture of friendship he would also make it easier for Russian tourists to travel to the UK.
In an age when entertainment value trumps sane policymaking every time, ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner.

Vote Powlesland. You know it makes sense. Especially if they give all the Ukippers a one-way ticket on the interstellar colony ship, Golgafrinchan B Ark-style.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop fascists

Refugee rescue boat sent to help far-right anti-immigrant ship stranded in Mediterranean with mechanical failure
See what I just did there, Katie?

By the way, I'm only joking about going all Apocalypse Now on the alt-reich's Mediterranean hate cruise. Fortunately, Katie Hopkins and her fellow trolls love a bit of edgy banter, so I'm sure they'll be wetting themselves with mirth over the hilarious idea of machine-gunning the survivors.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Unreadier than Æthelred

Brexit
ˈbrɛksɪt/
noun

The undefined being negotiatied by the unprepared in order to get the unspecified for the uninformed.

I don't know who came up with this, but I got it from here, via here and also posted it here.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Don't fear the reaper (?)

"Thursday briefing: Trump 'extremely getting on North Korea's nerves'"
Another odd pairing of text and image from Google News. Let's just hope there's no actual connection between an ominous hooded figure with glowing eyes and the clash of egos between two grotesquely oversized toddlers who are allowed to play with nuclear weapons.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Collapse

Easter's chiefs and priests had previously justified their elite status by claiming relationship to the gods, and by promising to deliver prosperity and bountiful harvests.  As their promises were being proved increasingly hollow, the power of the chiefs and priests was overthrown around 1680 by military leaders called matatoa, and Easter's formerly complexly integrated society collapsed in an epidemic of civil war...

...Oral traditions record that the last ahu [stone platforms] and moai [the famous Easter Island statues] were erected around 1620, and that Paro (the tallest statue) was among the last... That the sizes of the statues had been increasing may reflect not only rival chiefs vying to outdo each other, but also more urgent appeals to ancestors necessitated by the growing environmental crisis.
From Collapse, by Jared Diamond. With our own island's political elite apparently too paralysed by panic to do anything about a readily apparent crisis, other than fight among themselves and make obviously undeliverable promises, it seems to me that we've not learned as much from past catastrophes as we should have.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Hybrid vehicle

Camper vans, motor homes, recreational vehicles - their names are legion, but there are usually only two ways of getting one.

  1. Buy an off-the-shelf motor home which the manufacturer has built as a motor home
  2. Buy some kind of truck, van, or minibus and have the interior fitted out with the appropriate furniture by a professional coachbuilder (or do it yourself if you have the skills, time and tools).


But the individual responsible for the mobile Frankenhome below has no time for such conventional ways of doing things:
"I have a flat bed truck. I have a towed caravan. I graft the caravan body onto the truck. Behold my creation! It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!!!"
Spotted in Scarborough, earlier this week.