Arthur C Clarke turns 90

December 16th, 2007

Britain's Greatest Living Science Fiction Author, Arthur C Clarke, turns 90 today. I can't really improve on Martin Wisse's tribute:

Arthur C. Clarke was very much a part of my personal Golden Age of Science Fiction, together with Asimov and Heinlein one of the Big Three. Today he turned ninety. In his life he watched as some of the predictions he made in his stories became reality, most famously the idea of communication satellites in geostationary orbits, though so far we haven't had newsreaders launched up there yet. No black monoliths discovered on the moon yet either.

What's more, he has not just written classic science fiction stories, he has always helped popularise science itself as well, making it both accesible and interesting to whole generations.

So drink a toast on his continuing health and happy birthday, Arthur C. Clarke

In honour of the happy event, BBC 7 broadcast two radio adaptations of Clarke short stories: All the Time in the World on Saturday and The Parasite earlier today. Both will be available via the BBC's Listen Again service until 7 days after the date of their original broadcast.

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Mmmmm, bacon…

December 16th, 2007

The bacon flowchart takes you from "I'm hungry" to "Hooray for bacon!" in twenty-odd steps.

[Via Ghost in the Machine]

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Wattbacks

December 15th, 2007

Good grief!

If you're serious about getting our country off of archaic energies like oil and coal then this post is for you. Although I'm all in favor of purging our country of illegal aliens I have to admit this idea of mine could change our nation's energy future for the better.

My proposal would utilize the backpack pictured above from a company called Voltaic. This solar unit generates 4 watts of electricity. Clean, environmentally friendly, and free – of pollution, of combustion, of dependency to Arabs.

Each illegal would wear one of these packs. At 4 watts of electricity each, and considering the low end of the estimated illegal count (15 million), just do the math and you can see how 60 MEGAWATTS could be harvested that are currently not. Just 1 megawatt is enough to power 1,000 average homes, so again, do the math and you can see 60 MEGAWATTS would power about 60,000 American homes! […]

Sadly, this doesn't appear to be satire.

[Via EFFin' Unsound, via The Sideshow]

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Darth Claus

December 15th, 2007

Darth Claus: just a tad less scary than the original.

[Via The Tao of Mac]

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Dark Night bootleg trailer

December 14th, 2007

Judging by this bootleg of the trailer for The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan's sequel to Batman Begins is shaping up nicely.

Heath Ledger's Joker looks to be utterly deranged and truly terrifying – see, for example, this poster. When Heath Ledger was cast he was handed a copy of The Killing Joke; I don't get the impression that the film is following Alan Moore's plot (though as I'm trying hard to stay away from plot details I could be wrong on this), but if the combined efforts of the Nolan brothers, David Goyer and Heath Ledger give us that version of the Joker's character then The Dark Knight could well be something rather special.

[Via Ghost in the Machine]

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LucasFilm Christmas Cards

December 14th, 2007

LucasFilm have been sending out customised cards to employees and business partners for 30 years now.

Two stood out for me. First, the 1979 'change of address' card, which depicts various Star Wars characters moving house and features Darth Vader riding in a motorcycle sidecar. (I'll say that again: Darth Vader riding in a motorcycle sidecar.) Second, the 1986 Xmas card, which makes Ewoks as adorable as George Lucas clearly thought they were.

[Via GromBlog]

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Put Gordon in jail

December 13th, 2007

Mark Thomas opens a column with a memorable opening sentence:

Rarely do first lines have the potential to cost thousands of pounds (outside of libel), and rarely do I get to write words quite like those that follow; so forgive me an over-dramatic opening sentence, but yesterday lawyers acting for me started an attempt to get Gordon Brown into the dock.

[…]

If found guilty he could face 50 weeks in prison – though, after serving 10 years at No 11, he should do his bird with ease. […]

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On Mechanization and Standardization

December 13th, 2007

Greg Knauss has a little speech he uses to describe the benefits of computerisation.

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Crunks 2007

December 12th, 2007

Courtesy of the Regret the Error round-up of 2007:

The New York Times:
A caption on Saturday with a picture showing a Pakistani man on his bicycle carrying a painting of his son, who he says was abducted by Pakistani intelligence agents in 2001, misspelled the name of the Pakistani capital. It is Islamabad, not Islambad.

The British press had their moments too:

Daily Telegraph (UK):
APOLOGY: In Friday’s article on Liz Hurley’s wedding it was wrongly stated that the actress is holding a pheasant shoot on the Sunday after the ceremony. Game shooting is of course illegal on Sundays and the pheasant season ended on Feb 1. We apologise for the error and accept that if any shooting is to be done it will be by the paparazzi, who have no season and do not observe the Sabbath.

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It's Dick's world, we're just living in it…

December 12th, 2007

Suddenly, the picture comes into sharper focus:

A staple of the sf I read while growing up was the visionary capable of stepping outside normal social and intellectual boundaries to pursue a goal against all opposition and in face of every objection.

This person exists in real life.

It's Dick Cheney.

   — Bruce Baugh

[Compare and contrast with this entry from four years ago.]

[Via Progressive Gold]

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