"a Death Star isn't on the horizon"

Politics The White House's official response to the petition requesting the building a Death Star is poigniant, hilarious:
"The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

"The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?"
If I thought our government could be this funny, I'd start a pointless petition about building a TARDIS today.

toxic green slime

Science Last September, Grist reported on how a toxic green slime regularly covers the surfaces of the great lakes and it's man-made:
"Large corn and soy farms are mostly to blame, scientists and activists say, because they rely heavily on large quantities of phosphorous- and nitrogen-rich fertilizer that leach into the lakes, where they feed toxic blooms of cladophora and other nasty algae species. Manure from factory farms only adds to the nutrient load. [...] Farmers retort by pointing out that many households are also wasteful when it comes to the use of lawn fertilizers, which enter the lakes through storm-water drains."
Michigan Tech has a longer piece explaining some more of the science. Ugh.

WHO 50: 1970:

TV The raised eye brow which greets me from people who know I’m a huge Doctor Who fan, or devotee, or whatever I am, when I tell them I’ve never been to a convention in my life is always amusing.

“You’re never been to convention?” They say, as though being a Doctor Who fan and sitting a large room listening to anecdotes from actors before becoming terribly drunk with some old friends are mutually exclusive.

“No.” I say.


My reasons are well rehearsed.

The cost. Conventions tend to be quite expensive, between the travel, the entrance price and the train travel and since I’m a perennially poor person I’ve never really been able to afford it between the other fan trappings (the merchandise).

Geography. Conventions tend to be held well away from Liverpool, often in a hotel on some inconvenient A-road inaccessible for those of us who use public transport.

Time. Conventions usually happen at the weekends and in Winter months and since 2007 I’ve been working Saturdays and Sundays.

But the other reason is, I’m not really interested in meeting people related to the making of Doctor Who.

I should qualify that by saying I’m not generally interested in meeting celebrities in general.

The reason’s pretty straightforward but let me phrase it as a question.

What if they’re arseholes?

Thought Catalog has done a pretty good job of listing the reasons you shouldn’t meet your heroes.

You’ll be in awe, they’ll never be as impressive as you expect, and forever after that you won’t be able to enjoy their work without it impacting.

As infamous recent examples have indicated, such encounters are fraught with difficulty.

Of course if it was my job, please god, and I didn’t have a choice, I’d probably get over it. And myself.

But yes, that if not the whole reason, a large part of it.

I simply love Doctor Who too much to have it ruined by personal experience.

Which isn’t to say I don’t mourn not having the opportunity to hear the one about the eyepatch joke live when I had the chance.


Food One of my favourite websites, even if only because of the coding efforts involved is the BBC's food website and its quick recipe finder.

 As each cookery related programme is broadcast, the mentioned recipe is added to the database and made searchable by the programme itself, chef/presenter, ingredients or dish.

It's literally an internet movie database food. It's an IFDB.

Here's the complete Great British Menu. The Delicious Miss Dahl. Masterchef.

All of Nigella's recipes. Some Delia. Here's Hugh.

Chicken and pineapple recipes. Lamb and cauliflower. Oranges and Lemons.

Spaghetti Bolognese. Nut roasts. Apple pies.

Oh and Krotons. Nearly.

Mist Over Sefton Park.

Mist Over Sefton Park. by feelinglistless
Mist Over Sefton Park., a photo by feelinglistless on Flickr.

The Wasteland.

Literature An anonymous source has produced a hyperlinked version of TS Eliot's The Waste Land, filled with definitions and links to other websites explaining allusions:
"The opening verses of 'The Hollow Men' use images of dryness very similarly to 'The Waste Land'. it does not represent simply death (which in Buddhist thought, is the supreme goal of Nirvana, only reached by the most enlightened beings), but a lack of real life, a dreadful, sterile limbo state devoid of redemption or spiritual meaning."
I know the feeling.

The Stephens/Moore Conundrum.

Film  For various reasons, too boring to explain, let's be absolutely clear about this:

This is Toby Stephens:

This is Stephen Campbell Moore:

One was in the BBC's spy-related non-starter Hunted (bless him), the other was not.

Gond Art.

the first three seconds of the first new proper Sugababes material since the 90s

Music  Here it is then, the first three seconds of the first new proper Sugababes material since the 90s:

As the source , PopJustice (who else?) indicates, it's impossible to tell much from it other than the lack of autotune. Actually, the more exciting video is the acoustic version. Listen to those harmonies. LISTEN TO THOSE HARMONIES! Christmas might have gone, but the magic is still here.  Best bit?  When Siobhan pipes up with that voice, a voice we haven't heard solo since Ghosts.  Who says that nothing's happening this year?  This is the Jubilympics of pop music.  Of everything.

School Secret Wars: Chapter One.

During a post-Christmas clear-out this morning I found all of my exercise books from infants and primary school. In between the barely legible transcriptions of history lessons and my first computer studies lesson which was about gas bills it seems, was this curious document the origin of which I have little to no idea. 

 I assume it was the homework for some kind of creative writing lesson, writing a chapter each week, and lacking anything in the way of an original thought (start as you mean to go on) (show me the child at seven) (etc) it's a rewriting of Marvel Comics's major crossover event, presumably based on the UK reprint which were in circulation at the time. Find below a transcript of ...



Welcome to the Secret Wars!

The heroes participating are:-

Spider-man, well he does not need a intro.

She-Hulk, she is a feminine version of the Hulk with one exception, she is intelligent!

Capt. America is a very skilled combatant who is very kind.

Plus in the Fantastic Four there are: Mr Fantastic, a man who can stretch his body into any shape.

The Thing, is strong, but his appearance may frighten you.

Johnny Storm, the Human torch.  A fiery hero.

Now come the villains:

Doctor Doom, a very powerful villain.

Then there's Kang, Doctor Doom's futuristic counterpart.

Then the Molecule Man comes foreth.  He concentrates molecules, man!  He is powerful.

Doc Octopus has 8 arms.

Ultron, His mission is to all (illegible) living, Kill!

The Enchantress, an Asgardian goddess.

Underneath is the following drawing and teacher's comment:

You're too kind.  No really.  Bet you can't wait to see what happens next.

Elizabeth Wurtzel on her 2012. Other things.

People The biographical piece for New York Magazine contains some of the best writing Elizabeth's ever produced, about the perils of subletting in Greenwich Village (though the world "peril" doesn't really cover it) (to put it mildly), not growing up, not really having a direction in life and not know what to do about people.  I spent much of it nodding.  Not necessarily about the context, but the broad strokes.  Here's one of my favourite sections:
"... most people who think they are practicing law are actually making binders, and my guess is that most people who think they are doing whatever important thing they are doing are making binders. The binders from law firms go to a locker in a warehouse in a parking lot in an office park off an exit of a turnpike off a highway off an interstate in New Jersey, never to be looked at again. No one ever read them in the first place. But some client was billed for the hourly work."
Which explains how much of the Leveson enquiry worked, I'm sure.  I hope 2013 is a better time for you Elizabeth.

Teaching Machines.

Science In 1988, American Psychologist published a thorough history of teaching machines, and as the abstract demonstrates it's another example of an early pioneer being superseded by a later character with better publicity skills:
"The development of teaching machines is traced from the patented educational devices of the 19th century through the initial teaching machines of Sidney Pressey in the 1920s to the machines invented by B. F. Skinner in the 1950s. The obscurity of Pressey's pioneering work in this field contrasted with the fame achieved by Skinner is discussed in a historical context. The final sections discuss the short-lived success and eventual failure of classroom teaching machines in the 1950s and 1960s."
If nothing else, this link's worth visiting for the opening quote.

Oh, no it isn't.

Theatre I won't quote the thing (because that would be unfair) but I urge you to read Ian's description of his adolescent attitude to pantomimes in his always entertaining rummage through his old diaries.  Since I find theatres an oppressive business (in general) (sometimes) (depends), there's nothing here I'd disagree with.

"self-perpetuating slavery"

Politics Last March, CNN produced a media and text rich investigation into how Mauritania still remains a "stronghold" for slavery. They said:
"An estimated 10% to 20% of Mauritania’s 3.4 million people are enslaved — in “real slavery,” according to the United Nations’ special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian. If that’s not unbelievable enough, consider that Mauritania was the last country in the world to abolish slavery. That happened in 1981, nearly 120 years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States. It wasn’t until five years ago, in 2007, that Mauritania passed a law that criminalized the act of owning another person. So far, only one case has been successfully prosecuted."
In a follow up, The Guardian suggested this isn't a situation which is likely to change soon:
"Escape is no guarantee of freedom. When Ahmeid went to her local magistrate, her mother testified against her. Her uncle beat her savagely. After weeks shuttling between sympathisers, she found herself crouching in a two-storey building in Nouakchott late one evening as truckloads of policemen stormed an anti-slavery organisation where she had been sheltering. The group's leader, Birame Ould Abeid, and three others were jailed after publicly burning religious texts that have been used to justify slavery, and calling for black Moors and black Africans to unite."
They later published a rebuttle which wasn't received particularly by readers.