Monthly archives: January 2013

(Not) Going Underground 1

BBC News – Cumbria nuclear project rejected by councillors.

About twenty years ago I had a Summer job entering and editing geological data from boreholes in West Cumbria.   Working on five (or possibly ten, it was two decades ago, I can’t remember every detail) metres of core sample at a time, a team of geologists were noting every vein, fissure and fracture and detailing thickness, angle etc..  They were drawing up an image of the geological stability, and therefore suitability for long term nuclear waste storage, of the rocks under the Lake District.

At the time, I was of the opinion that Cumbria would get the deep storage even if there were more suitable places to put it.  The area was resolutely Labour and the Tory government would be less worried about pissing off people who weren’t going to vote for them anyway.  When the Summer was over I went back to university and more or less forgot about the problems of long term nuclear waste storage.  So it was something of a surprise to find that it was still an issue, and that a decision hadn’t yet been made.

Given that one of the proposed locations was Ennerdale- just over the hill from my parents’ house and unspoilt but for a bit of forestry- I’m glad that Cumbria County Council have said no.  The declaration by Copeland Borough Council that they might “go it alone” is disappointing, though.

Może powinienem nauczyć się języka polskiego

(Headline brought to you by Google translation)

So, Polish becomes England’s second language, according to the census. Though the opening paragraph of the Guardian article tells us-

Polish is now the main language spoken in England and Wales after English and Welsh, according to 2011 census data released by the Office of National Statistics.

I get the impression that someone doesn’t speak basic maths.

Some folk are going to tell us that it’s a big problem that there are people in the country who don’t have English as their first language. But, really, if we’re all supposed to speak the same, then what are regional accents for?

English is the dominant language in England (conveniently) and it’s going to stay that way, so I don’t have any time for the shock and horror stories a bunch of xenophobes are going to make of this news.

B-Movie Night: Zombie Flesh Eaters

Classic ’70s Italian softcore ‘n gore and a one time “video nasty”.

When an apparently abandoned yacht drifts into New York harbour, the Police who board it are attacked by a gruesome, decaying man locked in one of the cabins. After tearing out the throat of one of the cops, the bald monster is taken down, eventually, by multiple shots from his partner.

The daughter of the boat’s owner goes looking for answers and, after teaming up with a reporter, heads off to the uncharted island which was the last placed mentioned in the ship’s log. For the last leg of the journey they hitch a lift on a boat with an ethnologist and his girlfriend and the four find themselves on an island overrun by reanimated corpses. Why the zombies exist is never worked out, even though one slightly crazy doctor has been researching them since the outbreak started. But, really, we don’t need to know, it’s all about the gore.

It wouldn’t be an Italian film without a bit of skin on show, including a topless scuba diving scene which segues into a classic confrontation- zombie vs shark. I think the shark wins- it makes off with the zombie’s arm, after all- but what happens to a fish that eats zombie bits?

I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a zombie classic, but it is one of the more inventive entries into the genre, with gruesome makeup and some brutal battles. And, of course, a shark fighting a zombie.

Buy Zombie Flesh Eaters from Amazon uk.

Daily Blog 01/26/2013

  • When Queen Victoria came to the throne, the area that is now Alexandra Park in south Manchester was a lowland raised bog, a mossland. The neighbourhood next to the park is not called Moss Side for no reason! It seems the land was not very suitable for farming although we can see from the 1848 map that the area was divided into fields. People used to wash thatching rushes in the pools, according to one account. Interestingly with the high rainfall in recent months, areas of the park are reverting back to their former state.

    tags: manchester nature

  • The community of SF writers has reason to dislike digital copying, or “piracy” as it’s commonly labelled in the tabloid press. Genre writers exist, by and large, in the publishing mid-list, where mediocre sales might seem most easily eroded by the spectre of illegitimate downloads. SF, fantasy and horror are also the literature of choice for the culture of geeks most likely to share their favourite authors’ works on torrent sites. Not surprising, then, that many professional genre writers and editors respond to the growing reality of copying with the absolutist position that piracy is theft, and should be punished as such under the law.

    tags: books piracy publishing

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Give me liberty, but not libertarians 1

You can’t argue with the basic premise of Libertarianism- that more freedom, for everyone, is a good thing and an ideal to work toward. It’s a shame that most of the people who call themselves Libertarians argue for selfish irresponsibility instead.

I noticed this most recently listening to a piece on Radio 4 arising from the silly drink driving proposals from County Kerry. Sean Gabb, representing the Libertarian Alliance, argued that it’s better for people to be killed by drunk drivers than for people to be breathalysed, which catches and/or discourages drink drivers. Asked whether he thought breathalysing had saved any lives by discouraging drink driving he came back with a masterful analogy-

Sean answered that shooting drunk drivers out of hand on the roadside would be more effective, but that it would not be done for obvious reasons.
From the LA’s fanciful interpretation of the interview.

He then accused the presenter and co-interviewee of using emotive language because they dared to address the problem rather than avoid the question. Realising he was losing, GAbb decided not to use his argument winning gambit-

That states are not notably concerned about the protection of life. In the past century, thugs in uniform have been ordered by their political or military superiors to kill about 200 million people.

That’s the problem with self-pronounced Libertarians, they’re more concerned with getting their own way and indulging in their own vices than actually making the rest of us any freer. Their political philosophy is that of the spoilt child.

A proper, pragmatic, Libertarian would look for ways to raise the overall freedom of the whole country, and accept that their right to these freedoms comes with responsibilities. The right of one person to go on living, of their family to not suffer their loss and even, once they’d sobered up, for the driver to not have to live with the trauma of having killed someone, outweighs the “right” of an overconfident Libertarian to believe they’re perfectly safe to drive no matter how much they’ve had to drink.

Daily Blog 01/25/2013

  • If you have kids – or even if kids visit you regularly – you know how quickly their toys can take over your otherwise-minimalist interior. Mother and designer Amy Whitworth noticed this problem when she was building cardboard doll houses with her three-year-old daughter, and she decided to create doll furniture that doubles as grown-up furniture.

    tags: ideas dollhouse

  • “The Earth is but a tiny and precious world floating in a sea of natural resources. The riches of the solar system offer humanity both unprecedented prosperity and an improved environment. The resource potential of space outstrips that of any previous frontier – without the environmental impacts.”

    That quote forms the vision for Deep Space Industries (DSI), which has announced a plan to explore and mine asteroids flying near the Earth.

    tags: space

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

B-Movie Night: The Cabin In The Woods

I really enjoyed this film, but if I tell you some of the reasons why I liked it I’ll spoiler it for you.

The Cabin In The Woods is about a trip to a cabin. In some woods. Five friends- a jock, a stoner, a geek, a bimbo and a chaste good girl, take a trip to the holiday cabin the jock’s cousin has just bought. Despite meeting a creepy stranger on the road to the forest, they’re soon enjoying the lake, discovering one way mirrors in the bedroom and finding creepy secrets in the basement.

Obviously, it all starts to go horribly wrong from here on. I just can’t tell you how or why.

If you enjoyed The Evil Dead or any slasher movies then you’ll find loats of nods and in-jokes in a very clever homage/pastiche/reimagining combo.

Daily Blog 01/24/2013

  • As inquiries go, this one was more a meeting of minds than a clash of ideas. Witness after witness made points that were, if not identical, then at least angling towards the same goal. The hugely courteous panel of inquisitors gave every indication they thought the same.

    That was always likely to be the case for the all-party parliamentary cycling group (APPCG) inquiry into how we can, as the title goes, Get Britain Cycling.

    As I’ve pointed out before, if you think more people on bikes is a good idea for a country – and I’ve yet to hear an argument against based on logic rather than ignorance and/or prejudice; that sounds rude but it’s true – then we already know how to do it. Other places have shown the way. Indeed, it took all of about 90 seconds of evidence yesterday morning before the first bike-bingo box was filled in with a mention of Denmark.

    tags: cycling

  • On the photo above is a strategic bomber M4 designed by the Myasishchev design bureau in the beginning of the fifties. When it first appeared in public, at the military parade 1954 over Red Square, it deeply impressed people. It was the first time they saw such a big strategic bomber in the sky.

    tags: russia bomber aeroplane

  • On the south of Russkiy island of the Russian Far East there is an island called Shkota. It used to be populated by militarymen but today it’s fully abandoned. Only ruins of military barracks and a coastal battery remind of people who used to live here.

    tags: russia military abandoned

  • A Norwegian tunnel turned into a mouth-watering hellish inferno of flavor and terror this past Thursday when a truck carrying 27 tons of Brunost burst into flames in the Bratli Tunnel at Tysfjord, Norway. Brunost is caramelized brown goat cheese, a Norwegian delicacy that apparently is also incredibly flammable, as the fire burned for five days.

    tags: cheese norway

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

B-Movie Night: Gator

Burt Reynolds returns as Gator MCKlusky in the sequel to White Lightning.

Fresh out of jail (again) Gator McKlusky is press-ganged into helping the Governor and the Feds clean up Dunston County because the kingpin of Dunston crime is an old schoolfriend called Bama McCall. After giving the authorities the run-around in his jet boat, McKlusky reluctantly agrees to dig up the dirt on McCall just to keep his family from being harrassed.

McCall’s not a very convincing crimelord, and his chief henchmen- camp and creepy Smiler and big, dumb Bones- don’t help his image much. But he runs protection rackets, drugs and underage prostitutes and, it’s eventually revealed, has the local mayor in his pocket. With the help of a local reporter with great ambitions, and despite the presence of bumbling Fed Greenfield, Gator finds the secret ledgers that incriminate his old friend. Which is when McCall turns murderous.

The tone of this film feels wrong, with the violence of the last fifteen minutes or so being completely out of place. Where White Lightning managed an air of seedy threat, too much of this movie felt like a jape, an attempt to make bit of box office revenue riding on the success of the first film without putting in much effort. The jet boat chase is the big set piece of the film, but it comes at the start of the movie when it doesn’t feel like there’s anything at stake.

Overall, a disappointing follow up to a piece of Southern Fried noir.

Buy Gator from Amazon UK.

….and a leprechaun in every pot 1

A councillor in Kerry has done great work to perpetuate Irish stereotypes by trying to relax the drink-drive limit in rural parts of the county.

According to Danny Healy-Rae everything will be alright if they let a few drivers get sozzled and give them a get out of a breath test free card, because “on the roads I’m talking about, you couldn’t do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour [30-50km/h] and it’s not a big deal.” Allegedly, “A number of the councillors who approved the measure are reportedly themselves pub owners – but Mr Healy-Rae denied that this had influenced the vote.”

I learnt to drive on rural roads, and I have spent many a happy hour driving along country lanes. the last thing you want is a drunk coming the other way.

Could someone please teach the councillor about designated drivers, and get him to introduce a free soft drinks rule for them. It’ll serve the same supposed purpose as his dumb idea, without putting as many people at risk.

Daily Blog 01/21/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

B-Movie Night: Machete Maidens Unleashed

Machete Maidens Unleashed is currently only available in Region 1 format, so you’ll need a machine you can hack to read it.

This dvd was a birthday present to myself. It’s by the same director as Not Quite Hollywood, which covered Australian exploitation cinema, and follows a similar formula. Talking heads recount tales from the set cut between clips from the films they’re referring to, all put together in a roughly chronological history of the industry.

Where Ozsploitation grew out of Australian culture and found an eager audience outside the country, the Philippine version documented in this film (Flipsploitation?) was driven by American producers looking for cheap content. A lot of this documentary could just be a chapter in the Roger Corman story (Corman’s World is on my to-view list), as he was king of the Yankee producers for a long time from the sixties through to the seventies. He tries, though his tongue could be deep in his cheek, to claim films like The Big Doll House were all about female empowerment. Whilst some of the actresses involved echo the sentiment, the argument is undermined a bit by clips from the feminist opuses. For all the grand claims made for the art of Flipsploitation, there is always John Landis ready to play the amiable nay-sayer.

Most of the contributors have horror stories about conditions- on set and off- to spice their recollections. Stunt performers were cheap and could just be set on fire or thrown through windows (real glass, the Philippine movie makers hadn’t heard of sugar glass). More impressively, the Marcos regime was eager to let the army act as extras, lending scope to battle scenes far beyond the usually tiny budget. Though sometimes the helicopters were late on set because they’d been off firing live rounds at rebels. Apocalypse Now is most famous for using Marcos’ military for its grand action scenes, but the realism was added to many less well known films as well.

The dvd is packed with extra features, including extended interviews, a selection of trailers (from which I will be adding films to my to-view list) and commentary, so I’ll keep coming back to it whenever I want a bit of exploitation movie inspiration.

Watch this now- Speed Dreams: The Fastest Place On Earth

I may be an eco-worrier, but I also have a love of interesting cars. Sadly, most motoring television is fixated with dull penis replacements which cost more than a house (I’m looking at you Top Gear). So it was nice to see a two part documentary on Bonneville Speed Week. The first episode has probably dropped off iPlayer by now, but Jalopy Journal has found it on YouTube and embedded it.

Any one of the cars which makes it out to the salt flats is more interesting than all the supercars being drooled over by Clarkson and co.. We need to see more of this sort of stuff on the telly, so I’ll give a nod to Fast ‘n Loud on Discovery- two men with awesome beards rescue old cars, customise them and try to turn a profit.