Now if it was Fran I wouldn’t mid as much…

New, good bad and indifferent

Good News: The Howard Government is still trailing miserably in the opinion polls – meaning we might finally be able to shift them in this year’s election. This will give us the exciting opportunity of being screwed over by a new bunch of people in new and exciting ways!

Bad News: The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics (one of the most Godawful depressing songs of all time) has been stuck in my head for the last three days straight. I may need to apply liberal doses of Limbonic Art to get rid of it.

Indifferent News: The recharge port on my mobile phone has busted, rendering it useless. On the upside this means I’m not contactable for support after hours. On the downside people I actually want to talk to may be trying to call me, and getting annoyed because they think I’ve got it turned off.

Weird News: I just got a spam email from ‘Bernard Black’. When fictional British TV characters start spamming you, then it’s time for drastic action of some sort πŸ™‚

Lies! All Lies!

Barnes Wallis vs The Clash

Her Majesty’s Artillery Barrage, Brixton – more commonly referred to as the Guns of Brixton – is a military installation in southern London. Constructed under the direct supervision of Barnes Wallis in 1940 it was paired with a similar installation in the north London suburb of Leyton (known as ‘the Guns of Leyton’ – demolished in 1962).

The installation consists of eight ‘Boadicea’ class artillery pieces each standing 8.3 metres high with a barrel length of 30.5 metres and capable of firing once a minute. In full operation the facility consumes 40 tonnes of coal an hour (supplied by a branch line from Herne Hill railway station), projecting a ‘fire screen’ of burning coal fragments to an altitude of 1400 metres, protecting most of southern London from bombing attacks.

Barnes Wallis built the guns ‘out of his head’ with very few designs and under intense pressure. As such none of the guns are exactly alike, and many of the technical innovations he devised are poorly understood. This – combined with the fire screen’s tendancy to intefere with radar sensing and inability to defend against nuclear attack – prevented similar facilities being constructed after the war.

Several attempts to build smaller versions of the guns – mostly as an aid to figuring out how they work – have been made, but all have met with failure. Many prominant engineers have informally stated that the guns should not function at all. They remain fully operational however and are sometimes fired during times of special celebration – lighting up the entire south London sky. This practise is limited however by the need to ground all aircraft several hours before, and shut down Heathrow, Gatwick and London City Airports. The most recent firing was during the Queen’s 80th birthday celebrations in 2006.

The Guns of Brixton Experience is a tourist attraction based around the guns and operated by the National Trust. It opened in 1998 and operates guided tours several times a day.

The Guns of Brixton are counted as one of the Seven Wonders of the Second World War, along with the HMS Habakkuk making up the total British contribution to the list.

There are Times it’s Good to be a Guy

Weirdos on the train, bad subtitling, and nuclear armageddon. Just another day at the office.

An exchange witnessed on the train to work this morning…

Reasonably normal looking Guy: Excuse me, how old are you?

Attractive Girl (surprised): [Age]

Guy: Are you single?

Girl (hesitantly): Yes…

Guy: Would you like to go out on date with me?

Girl: No.

Guy: C’mon!

Girl: No.

Guy: I’m married, but I still see lots of women!

Girl: No.

Guy: Why not?

Girl: Uh… I have a boyfriend.

Guy: So you’re not single?

Girl: No.

Guy: Where are you from?

Girl: Kenya.

Guy: What are you studying?

Girl: Nursing.

Guy: Ah. I’m not really married. I’d never get married, most guys get married but keep on sleeping with other women. I’ve slept with lots of women.

Girl: Right.

Guy (to someone else): Do you know where I can get food stamps?

It’s time’s like that that you realise women really do get the short end of the stick sometimes. I mean she was perfectly safe physically (there were a whole bunch of people listening to the conversation who would have stepped in if things started heading in that kind of direction) but it must be horrible to not be able to ride the train without being harrased by weirdos pestering you for dates, no matter how rarely it might occur.

Jericho is back on tonight, although they’ve put in on at 9:30. It’s just as well Spooks ended last week, or I’d be torn. Truly torn! Oh, and it looks like Channel 10 has got Torchwood (they’ve started a teaser campaign about “Captain Jack Harkness – the man who cannot die!”), which is odd because I would have expected the ABC to pair it up with Doctor Who. Oh well, as long as they don’t put it on opposite Doctor Who I’m happy.

Although on the subject of Spooks I do have to complain about whoever does the subtitling (it’s nit-picking rant time, so please feel free to skip this paragraph :). In one of the episodes earlier this season one of the team (it takes me ages to learn characters’ names in shows I’m afraid) is infiltrating a people smuggling operation while masquerading as a Circassian Arab. He’s in the back of a truck with a bunch of other refugees and manages to establish a bit of trust with them by giving an old man some of his water. One of the others then asks him (I think this is what they ask, it was a few weeks ago) where he’s from – in Arabic. The problem? It’s subtitled as “Were are you from?”. Were are you from? Were? I mean honestly!! When the BBC (is Spooks BBC? I’ll assume it is) can’t manage to subtitle in the Queen’s English then what is the world coming to?! Hrumph!!

OK, rant over πŸ™‚

Well my lunch break is now also over, so back to work. Ho hum.

German Cinema

As if it came from a penny dreadful or music television…

OK I’ve decided I’m going to try and write a bit each day this week, to get back into the blogging thing. So tonight I though why not point people towards Dresden Codak? This is a rather fine webcomic that has only recently settled down into having a storyline – rather than displaying a bunch of brilliantly illustrated and thought provoking non-sequiturs, often to do with philosophy and such.

You’ve got to love a comic that can come up with a phrase as brilliantly anti-romantical-cynical as “my heart is nothing more than an engine forged from the remnants of a dead star” πŸ™‚

Not to mention the entire concept of Dungeons and Discourse πŸ™‚

Read them all!

OK, going to watch TV now.

The Vast Suburban Churches…


Just hopping on quickly to say that Jamie T’s song Sheila is truly excellent. Not only does it get the young people listening to Betjeman (The Cockney Amorist to be precise), but the video clip has monkeys! Monkeys!!

(And before anyone decides to complain and say they’re apes, I’d like to point out that macaques are actually monkeys – even though they don’t have tails. So there!)

Hmmm, while we’re at it the video for Muses’ Invicible is also fairly awesome. As is the song. Indulgent – we are talking Muse after all – but awesome. I really must pick up a copy of their latest album.

Finno-Ugric Here We Come!

Ramblings about why there haven’t been many entries lately, and about horses on fire.

Well I honestly intended to get a decent entry written this weekend, but what with everything that’s going on – illness, Doctor’s appointments, my brother’s 30th birthday, etc – I didn’t find the time. This is somewhat of a problem as it means more and more news is backing up that I want to write about, meaning that when I do get the chance to write it’s going to eat up a big chunk of time, and be a massive entry.

I suppose I could make some kind of resolution to write a little bit a day, but c’mon, there’s no way I’d keep it. So I guess I’ll just have to put an entire day or so aside for updates, probably next weekend. Probably.

This is turning into a rather awful entry really. Just moaning and excuses about why there aren’t any real entries. I should try and find something to talk about to try and make it worth reading. Which is difficult because I’m typing this out during my lunchbreak at work, with a sandwich in one hand and my co-workers peering over my shoulder with their beady little eyes (well, potentially peering over my shoulder with their perfectly normal eyes to be honest). Maybe I can find something interesting on Wikipedia to link to…

There we go, Ubykh, the (sadly) now extinct Caucasian language with 84 consonants, 2 vowels, and special linguistic classes for things to do with horses, and putting things in and out of fires (don’t even try to talk about putting horses into fires :). The last speaker died in 1992, and one has to wonder if he was playing some kind of obscure Caucasian joke on the field linguists.

Linguist: How do you say “I buy the goat”?

Informant: Rttgfuhgdnbodd sgfsfhodd gftrg

Linguist: So “to buy” is “sgfsfhodd”?

Informant: Yes, unless buy horse

Linguist: Unless you’re buying a horse? Why?

Informant: Horse special. To buy horse is “Rtthgufgfbog swdddfhad hfgth”. Horse have own words. Is special.

Linguist: OK…. what about “I put the goat in the stall”?

Informant: Mghfugghug fghohh gftrg

Linguist: But if it was a horse?

Informant: Mdfugghuu fgtott hfgth. Unless put horse in fire. Then is dugdugdog fghott groogol.

Linguist: ….

Stranger things have happened! (and yes, I know nothing about Caucasian languages, so don’t email to say that “rtthgufgfbog” is clearly Finno-Ugric or something :).

Better get back to work.

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