October 27, 2014

No Godzilla Jokes Were Made in the Making of This Flood Defense Video

This is so cool (and omg I wouldn’t spend too much time standing in those tunnels):

ABC News (Oz) – TOKYO FLOOD PREVENTION

Fifty metres beneath the teeming megacity of Tokyo is an underworld river system – 6.4km of tunnels, colossal water tanks, massive pillars, giant pumps that remove 200 tonnes of floodwater every second. It’s an engineering marvel built to protect Tokyo against the increasing threat of flooding.

You can download the video here, in case that link breaks later (although then I suppose this link would, too).

(Isn’t it nice how the Australians let the Japanese speak, rather than dub over them?)

August 11, 2014

That One Plus the Fourth One

birfday_cake_big


I woke up this morning thinking, given current events, it would be nice if not too many people died today.

Poor Robin Williams.

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August 6, 2014

Sniffle XLXIV: Morning Commute Edition

perth train stuck leg

A man in Perth gets his leg wedged between the train and the platform, and ERRBODY rushes to help with their own brute strength (rather than shutting the rail system down all day until men in hi-viz jackets, hardhats and walkie-talkies arrive to dismantle the thing at enormous public cost, as one would imagine happening here, or anywhere else).

“He seemed to be a bit sheepish, because right where he fell was the ‘mind the gap’ writing.”

Adorable.

August 5, 2014

Poppies

This is such a beautiful idea:

Making the poppies – The Tower of London Remembers

Installing the Poppies – The Tower of London Remembers Project

I suppose if we did it here it would be some sort of ridiculous “crescent of embrace”, or in this case, the “imperial eagle of remembrance,” or something.

Speaking of memorials, I found out about this, for the first time, watching a history documentary the other day, and it made me hideously depressed about our ability to find or create solemn beauty in anything anymore:

Bayeuxcemetery12

It’s hard to read and I can’t find a bigger picture, but it’s the Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, and says, in latin, “Nos a Gulielmo victi victoris patriam liberavimus,” or “We, once conquered by William, have no set free the Conqueror’s land”.

How’s that for a beautiful, solemn and thoughtful grasp of history? (It also strikes me as a very complicated tense structure for the Latin scholars at the time. I wonder if there were fights about the wording?)

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June 26, 2014

It’s Still Like That One Time I Tried Watching The West Wing

This is very good:

The Week – Vox, derp, and the intellectual stagnation of the Left
Talk about an epistemic closure problem. By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

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Peter Recommends CXLVIII

This is about the bestest thing in the world right now (the story, not the beer, per se):

Stella Artois: Perfectionists: Rufus – The Real Hawk-Eye

More here: Wimbledon Hired A Hawk To Scare The Pigeons Away

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Oh Mo

Preemptive Update!

I wrote this post over a month ago, but then got lazy and didn’t finish the last couple of links (still haven’t, but honestly I think I’ve got the basics covered), but then this morning I saw this Tell Mama link posted below, which made me think a) Oh that’s hilarious, who COULD they mean? and b) I guess the story isn’t totally over so I should just post the damned thing, and not let all that archiving for the ol’ External Memory Drive go to waste.

Tell Mama – A Clarification On Our Work on Anti-Muslim Prejudice

It goes without saying that we at TELL MAMA think anti-Muslim prejudice is a very serious issue. We have seen the impacts on victims of anti-Muslim prejudice first hand and particularly on women and young people. We therefore take all reports of anti-Muslim prejudice very seriously. We also do our very best on the limited resources that we have, to offer the right kind of support for those who have suffered from discrimination on the basis of their faith. However, our work is currently not being helped by those who seek to abuse this social issue for their own political or egotistical ends. …

Nothing fuels the far-right more than the notion that Muslims are seeking a special privileged status for themselves and their religion. It is, therefore, vitally important that Muslims don’t inadvertently give fodder to the far-right by using our organisation to pursue personal vendettas against individuals whom they have had disagreements with.

Anyway, back to the 16th of May…


I don’t usually post about stuff that has little to nothing to do with the US/wider world (I don’t usually post much at all, lately) but I think this story, which I’ve been enjoying immensely on Twitter, is so interesting because the man at the heart of it seems to have invented himself (literally) entirely on Twitter. (And, incidentally, plucky, wonderful Tweetbot has been getting a lot of shoutouts for saving deleted Tweets for later cataloging.) And yet here is a list of media appearances he’s made since his self-invention, taken from his website:

(TV) BBC’s The One Show, Newsnight, ITV Daybreak, Daily Politics, The Big Questions, Sunday Morning Live and Sunday Politics. He has been interviewed on Sky News, BBC News, Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News, BBC World News and a wide variety of international outlets including CNN, ITN, RT, Reuters, Al Jazeera, RTL, France 24 and Australia’s TEN News. (Radio) BBC Radio 4 Any Questions, Claire Balding Sunday Show, the World At One, PM, The Sunday Programme, Beyond Belief, Daily Thoughts, Faith Dialogues, The Asian Network and extensive local/regional programming. 

Some recap for people who haven’t been following, and also, for the external memory drive:

Harry’s Place (June 5, 2013) – Exposing the Pseudo Moderation of Mo Ansar

The Rationalizer (February 19) – Is Mo Ansar an Islamophobicophiliac?

Adrian Hilton (April 15) – Education? Qualification? Publication? No answer from Mo Ansar

(Iain Dale (May 4) – The Truth About Mo Ansar](http://www.iaindale.com/posts/2014/05/04/the-truth-about-mo-ansar)

Storify (May 8) – .@JeremyDuns and a series of charges against Mo Ansar

Jeremy Duns (May 14) – The Dangerous Mr Ansar (cached version is here)

Milo Yiannopoulis (May 15) – Mo Ansar, the bogus Muslim ‘theologian’ who defends slavery and says Muslims discovered America in AD1000… while claiming benefits and appearing on the BBC

The Rationalizer (May 15) – Who and what exactly is Mo Ansar? <– amazing research.

Spectator podcast (May 15):

And The Spectator (May 17) – How did Mo Ansar become the voice of British Muslims? By Nick Cohen

And here’s a list of qualifications he’s claimed (just to provide symmetry with his list of media appearances, above), as compiled by Milo Yiannopoulos:

• Lawyer
• Lecturer
• Banker
• Imam
• Marriage counsellor
• Visiting lecturer
• Political and social commentator
• Legal advocate
• Educator
• Educationalist
• Speaker
• Grass roots activist
• Civil rights activist
• Social justice activist
• Peace activist
• “Interfaither”
• Theologian
• School governor
• Girls’ cricket team coach
• England and Wales Cricket Board coach
• Equality specialist (“15 years”)
• Equality practitioner “in Parliament”
• Communication specialist
• Child protection expert
• Prison chaplain
• College chaplain
• Professional logician
• Professional Association of Diving Instructors-qualified scuba diver
• “The Muslim Bishop of Southampton”
• Community organiser
• Diversity consultant
• Religious Education practitioner
• School governor
• LGBT activist (“almost a decade”, “15 years”)


Oh and the other reason I’m so happy about this is because nearly the day before it all blew up in his face, he tried turning his followers against India Knight who was in a slightly tipsy rage against some idiot on Twitter and in a single tweet (limit 140 characters, less the amount given to the @names she’s replying to) used the abbreviations “Scot” and “Paki” which (the latter, obvs) he jumped all over her about in at least three separate tweets to make sure everyone heard him, because it’s appallingly racist and whatnot. This included saying he’d written to The Sunday Times and her publisher that they should drop her as a writer. He seems to have deleted those tweets, as well. Asshat.

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June 6, 2014

D-Day 70


click to enlarge


watch big and make sure it’s in HD

Curtsy: CDR Salamander for that Stock Footage video.

The best story today:

[A]n 89-year-old veteran was reported missing by his care home after being told that he couldn’t go to Normandy. …

Sussex police say that the man, who has not been named, was reported missing last night by a nursing home in Hove. He had gone out at 10.30am wearing a grey macintosh and jacket with his war medals.

Police searched the area and checked with hospitals and then the nursing home had a phone call from a “younger” veteran who said he had met the man in question on a coach to France and they were “safe and well in a hotel in Ouistreham”.

Perhaps his “young” friend is a veteran of the Korean war? Anyway, what a guy. Grabbing his medals and sneaking out of his old folks home to turn up on a beach in Normandy.


Honestly, I don’t know how all the wives (not to be sexist, but since Angela Merkel seems to be busying herself elsewhere, and since presumably their husbands have learned how to suppress any residual human emotional impulses in their day jobs, it is mostly wives) go to these D-Day Remembrance ceremonies without messy crying throughout.


Speaking of wives, just to be slightly frivolous here, but I really love what SamCam’s wearing:

samcam dday

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April 24, 2014

Peter Recommends CXLVII

Formula 1 Pit Stops 1950 & Today

Very funny.

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April 16, 2014

The Shut Up Brigade

Hello! I’ve been in Maui for a week and a half. And pretty much the entire time I was there, the news was erupting with some new story about how we’re not allowed to talk about things we’re not allowed to talk about. Mark Steyn’s written a column on the subject in the UK and Aussie Spectators (The slow death of free speech; How the Left, here and abroad, is trying to shut down debate — from Islam and Israel to global warming and gay marriage), and quoted a bit that I read in one of the pieces floating around Twitter last week that I especially liked, and puts it very well:

Nick Lowles defined the ‘No Platform’ philosophy as ‘the position where we refuse to allow fascists an opportunity to act like normal political parties’. But free speech is essential to a free society because, when you deny people ‘an opportunity to act like normal political parties’, there’s nothing left for them to do but punch your lights out. Free speech, wrote the Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson last week, ‘buttresses the political system’s legitimacy. It helps losers, in the struggle for public opinion and electoral success, to accept their fates. It helps keep them loyal to the system, even though it has disappointed them. They will accept the outcomes, because they believe they’ve had a fair opportunity to express and advance their views. There’s always the next election. Free speech underpins our larger concept of freedom.’

Some others from the last 12 days:

The Atlantic – The Culture of Shut Up
Too many debates about important issues degenerate into manufactured and misplaced outrage—and it’s chilling free speech. By Jon Lovett

OC Register – Joel Kotkin: The spread of ‘debate is over’ syndrome On climate and other issues, many in academia, media, government insist their viewpoint is unassailable and won’t tolerate dissent.

Attack the System [a blog; look I have no idea who she is] – #CancelColbert and the Return of the Anti-Liberal Left

Incidentally, I’ve long sworn never to donate any money to any political organization or campaign or anything that could put my name on a list next to it in the public domain. This dates back to when I was a teenager. But when we still lived in Seattle and there was a gay marriage item on the ballot, and one of the local papers was publishing the address and photos of the homes of people who’d donated to the traditionalist campaign? Yeah. And now this. Just in case there are any political fundraising types reading this.

I read somewhere that the poor Mozilla man’s donation was a result of an IRS leak. But then I never heard anyone mention that again so I’m hoping it’s not true, and we’re not all so used to the idea that the IRS is out to get us that it’s not even worth commenting on when they do.

Update (4.18): Hilariously, I just finally got around to checking what this one thing I had emailed to myself months and months ago (apparently a year ago but that’s impossible) and lo, it fits perfectly! In so many ways!

Out.com – In the Reign of the Gay Magical Elves, by Bret Easton Ellis

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March 27, 2014

Absolutely the Funniest Item of the Day CCCXI

Do It For Denmark!

Tak.

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March 25, 2014

Absolutely the Funniest Item of the Day CCCX

Peter sent me this last week and it is amazing. Keep watching, because the first part is funny but the punchline is in the second part. Then after the second part, there’s a third part, also funny.

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Sniffle XLXIII: A Bright Light in a Bad Situation Edition

I’ve often rhapsodized on the wonder of plucky, western Australia (and New Zealand, yes) floating around in the middle of a big ocean surrounded by…well, the sorts of countries that the families of the lost flight MH370 have had to deal with for the past two and a half weeks (at the time of writing). So let’s skip repeating ourselves.

The other day some trash was spotted in the southern Indian Ocean near (in relative terms) Perth, and all the efforts were suddenly picked up by Australian servicemen and women, and if you’ve been watching the news on Sky, lordy it was nice. But let’s skip further recap.

Then this, at the very bottom of an article in The Times (“‘Ghost plane’ theory revived for MH370 as relatives’ anger erupts”)

Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, told Parliament that it was very likely relatives of those on MH370 would come to Western Australia within the next few days. The Government would waive their entry visa fees, he said.

“I want them all to know they will be in the arms of a decent country,” he said.

*sniffle*

March 3, 2014

Absolutely the Funniest Item of the Day CCCIX

I forgot about this, but I’ve had it open for like two weeks:

Dont Tell Mummy! (JamieP’s 1000 bhp GTR)

March 1, 2014

Tinsel Town Tops Nine!

Tardy? Nah! It’s OSCARS WEEKEND!!! (cut to the masses downloading the conveniently three-hours-shorter version of the ceremony on Monday morning)

So, here are the contendahs for the best that Show Biz had on offer for us plebes last year, followed by my predictions:

Update (3.3)!! And with the actual winners…

Best Picture:
• American Hustle: Saw it; good but not best picture material (best acting is another story)
• Captain Phillips: Saw it; good but a little one-note
• Dallas Buyers Club: Haven’t seen it
• Gravity: Saw it; loved it (in 2D)
• Her: Haven’t seen it
• Nebraska: Haven’t seen it
• Philomena: Haven’t seen it
• 12 Years a Slave: Haven’t seen it
• Wolf of Wall Street: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: 12 Years a Slave. No I didn’t see it, but I hear it’s amazing probably deserves to win more than Gravity does (which would be my choice if I happened to know anything specific about 12 Years a Slave)
My Prediction: 12 Years a Slave

Actual Winner: √ 12 Years

Best Actor:
• Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years: Haven’t seen it
• Christian Bale, American Hustle: Saw it; think he did a really good job
• Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers: Haven’t seen it
• Bruce Dern, Nebraska: Haven’t seen it
• Leo DiCaprio, Wolf: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Chiwetel. No I haven’t seen it, but I do love him and wouldn’t it be lovely if he got it?
My Prediction: Chiwetel.

Actual Winner: Matthew McConaughey!

Best Actress:
• Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine: Haven’t seen it
• Sandra Bullock, Gravity: Saw it; think she did a really good job
• Judi Dench, Philomena: Haven’t seen it
• Amy Adams, American Hustle: Saw it, and quite literally forgot I was
watching Amy Adams, which means she did a really really good job.

My Pick: Cate Blanchett, because she’s lovely, but Sandra Bullock, because she’s lovely too, and she did do a really good job.
My Prediction: Cate

Actual Winner: √ Cate

Supporting Actor:
• Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers: Haven’t seen it
• Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips: Saw it, and yeah he did a really good job but in that way where I mostly give credit for the performance to the director (but wouldn’t it be lovely if he won?)
• Bradley Cooper, American Hustle: Saw it, think he was good but not as good as some of the others probably were
• Jonah Hill, Wolf: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Barkhad Abdi
My Prediction: Jonah Hill. Actually I have no idea but I feel like Jared Leto is getting so much talking up that he won’t win.

**Actual Winner: Jared Leto***

Supporting Actress:
• Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine: Haven’t seen it
• Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle: Saw it, and she was great, but her New Yawk accent kept taking a left turn at Louisville.
• Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years: Haven’t seen it
• Julia Roberts, August: Osage County: Haven’t seen it
• June Squibb, Nebraska: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Lupita Nyong’o
My Prediction: Lupita Nyong’o

Actual Winner: √ Lupita!

Best Director:
• Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity: Saw it; loved it
• Steve McQueen, 12 Years: Haven’t seen it
• Alexander Payne, Nebraska: Haven’t seen it
• David O Russell, American Hustle: Saw it, thought it was baggy and lacked pacing.
• Martin Scorcese, Wolf: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Alfonso
My Prediction: Steve McQueen

Actual Winner: Alfonso

Original Screenplay:
• American Hustle: Saw it; thought it was baggy and lacked pacing and the whole reveal at the end fell kind of flat.
• Blue Jasmine: Haven’t seen it
• Dallas Buyers: Haven’t seen it
• Her: Haven’t seen it
• Nebraska: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Blue Jasmine
My Prediction: Dallas Buyers

Actual Winner: Huh; Her

Adapted Screenplay:
• Before Midnight: Haven’t seen it
• Captain Phillips: Saw it and thought they must have done a very good job with the book.
• Philomena: Haven’t seen it
• 12 Years: Haven’t seen it
• Wolf: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: 12 Years (funny how many I’m picking this for considering I haven’t seen it)
My Prediction: 12 Years

Actual Winner: √ 12 Years

Best Animated Film:
• The Croods: Haven’t seen it
• Despicable Me 2: Haven’t seen it
• Frozen: Saw it, loved it, even if the big-eyed-small-mouth character design falls completely apart when a female character is in profile, guys. Sort it out.
• The Wind Rises: Haven’t seen it
• Ernest & Celestine: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Frozen
My Prediction: Frozen

Actual Winner: √ Frozen

Foreign Language:
• The Great Beauty (Italy): Haven’t seen it
• The Hunt (Denmark): Haven’t seen it
• Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium): Haven’t seen it
• The Missing Picture (Cambodia): Haven’t seen it
• Omar (Palestine): Haven’t seen it

My Pick: The Great Beauty, because I heard it was “so Italian”, and I heard The Hunt was kinda meh.
My Prediction: The Great Beauty

Actual Winner: √ The Great Beauty

Documentary:
• The Act of Killing: Haven’t seen it
• Cutie and the Boxer: Haven’t seen it
• Dirty Wars: Haven’t seen it
• The Square: Haven’t seen it
• 20 Feet from Stardom: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: The Act of Killing. I might bring myself to watch it someday.
My Prediction: The Act of Killing

Actual Winner: Oh come on, 20 Feet from Stardom?

Cinematography:
• The Grandmaster: Haven’t seen it
• Gravity: Saw it
• Inside Llewyn Davis: Haven’t seen it
• Nebraska: Haven’t seen it
• Prisoners: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Gravity
My Prediction: Gravity

Actual Winner: √ Gravity

Costume Design:
• American Hustle: Saw it; thought they did a good job, except they never explained how any of the ladies could bend over to sit without flashing the room.
• The Grandmaster: Haven’t seen it
• The Great Gatsby: Saw it, think they did a pretty good job, and really Miuccia Prada should share the Oscar if it wins, eh?
• The Invisible Woman: Haven’t seen it
• 12 Years: Haven’t seen it

My Pick: Gatsby
My Prediction: 12 Years

Actual Winner: √ Gatsby

Original Song:
Haven’t heard any of them except “Let it Go” from Frozen which I’ve heard, in multiple languages, about a bajillion times. Peter totally loves it.

My Pick: Let it Go
My Prediction: Let it Go

Actual Winner: √ Let it Go

Skipping now to Special Effects and then ending with that:
• Gravity
• The Hobbit: Haven’t seen it
• Iron Man 3: It was good but I don’t think it’ll win
• The Lone Ranger: Haven’t seen it
• Star Trek: It too was good but I just don’t think these summer blockbusters will ever beat Gravity.

My Pick: Gravity
My Prediction: Gravity

Actual Winner: √ Gravity

So I got 10/15 right? That’s not bad.

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