Elbow: Lippy Kids

I really like this. Sorry if I’ve already bored you with it on Facebook.



I keep meaning to mention Prof. Batty’s Flippism Is The Key blog. It’s hard to categorise, but I really love the writing. Today’s post, The Pack, is another good one, encapsulating the bad side of school days in a few hundred words.


How to make the press report good science

There’s an interesting discussion on Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science site about the way in which the media regularly publishes scare stories, but never prints the evidence that shows the stories were bollocks. The article talks about a favourite scare – mercury fillings in your teeth rot your brain, or something – which has been thoroughly debunked; the debunking hasn’t been reported.

Bad Science reader Tristan has a genius suggestion:

I think positive science stories should be turned into conflict ones. For example, the mercury fillings one could have got much more press if the authors of the research had offered to head butt anyone who still said mercury fillings were dangerous.


Are the Yes Men at it again?

Merry pranksters the Yes Men like issuing fake press releases and building fake web sites to embarrass corporations. I reckon this (recieved this morning) is one of them, or from a like-minded soul at least:

Halliburton Solves Global Warming

SurvivaBalls save managers from abrupt climate change
An advanced new technology will keep corporate managers safe even when climate change makes life as we know it impossible. [Speech, photos]

“The SurvivaBall is designed to protect the corporate manager no matter what Mother Nature throws his or her way,” said Fred Wolf, a Halliburton representative who spoke today at the Catastrophic Loss conference held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Amelia Island, Florida. “This technology is the only rational response to abrupt climate change,” he said to an attentive and appreciative audience.

Most scientists believe global warming is certain to cause an accelerating onslaught of hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornadoes, etc. and that a world-destroying disaster is increasingly possible. For example, Arctic melt has slowed the Gulf Stream by 30% in just the last decade; if the Gulf Stream stops, Europe will suddenly become just as cold as Alaska. Global heat and flooding events are also increasingly possible.

In order to head off such catastrophic scenarios, scientists agree we must reduce our carbon emissions by 70% within the next few years. Doing that would seriously undermine corporate profits, however, and so a more forward-thinking solution is needed.

At today’s conference, Wolf and a colleague demonstrated three SurvivaBall mockups, and described how the units will sustainably protect managers from natural or cultural disturbances of any intensity or duration. The devices – looking like huge inflatable orbs – will include sophisticated communications systems, nutrient gathering capacities, onboard medical facilities, and a daunting defense infrastructure to ensure that the corporate mission will not go unfulfilled even when most human life is rendered impossible by catastrophes or the consequent epidemics and armed conflicts.

“It’s essentially a gated community for one,” said Wolf.

Dr. Northrop Goody, the head of Halliburton’s Emergency Products Development Unit, showed diagrams and videos describing the SurvivaBall’s many features. “Much as amoebas link up into slime molds when threatened, SurvivaBalls also fulfill a community function. After all, people need people,” noted Goody as he showed an artist’s rendition of numerous SurvivaBalls linking up to form a managerial aggregate with functional differentiation, metaphorically dancing through the streets of Houston, Texas.

The conference attendees peppered the duo with questions. One asked how the device would fare against terrorism, another whether the array of embedded technologies might make the unit too cumbersome; a third brought up the issue of the unit’s cost feasibility. Wolf and Goody assured the audience that these problems and others were being addressed.

“The SurvivaBall builds on Halliburton’s reputation as a disaster and conflict industry innovator,” said Wolf. “Just as the Black Plague led to the Renaissance and the Great Deluge gave Noah a monopoly of the animals, so tomorrow’s catastrophes could well lead to good – and industry must be ready to seize that good.”

Goody also noted that Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society was set to employ the SurvivaBall as part of its Corporate Sustenance (R) program. Another of Cousteau’s CSR programs involves accepting a generous sponsorship from the Dow Chemical Corporation, whose general shareholder meeting is May 11.


Scots politicians are bastards, again

That’s me back in Scotland, the land where the Scottish Executive may soon be vetting pub menus.

As Tim Worstall puts it:

To steal a thought from PJ O’Rourke, at some point we’ll all admit that we’ve got enough government, have enough laws and simply don’t need any more. I’d submit that Scotland has already passed that point?


Taking a blog break

I’m off to Ireland for a wedding this week, and I’m extending the trip a bit to do some visiting and generally bomb around the north and south of the country with nothing but wonky sat-nav to guide me. Assuming I don’t drive into the Liffey, I’ll be back next week.


TIme to kill Internet Explorer

The forthcoming Internet Explorer 7 is pretty nifty, but should Microsoft abandon the browser altogether? John Dvorak thinks so, and puts together an excellent case:

Microsoft should pull the browser out of the OS and discontinue all IE development immediately. It should then bless the folks with a cash endowment and take an investment stake in Opera, to influence the future direction of browser technology from the outside in. Then, Microsoft can worry about security issues that are OS-only in nature, rather than problems compounded by Internet Explorer.

It’s an inspired article and I think he’s right when he says:

All of Microsoft’s Internet-era public-relations and legal problems (in some way or another) stem from Internet Explorer. If you were to put together a comprehensive profit-and-loss statement for IE, there would be a zero in the profits column and billions in the losses column—billions.

You can read the full article – The Great Microsoft Blunder – on


Nintendo: taking the piss?

I’d love to have been a fly on the wall at the meeting where Nintendo decided that the best name for its next-generation games console, codenamed the Revolution, was “wii” (pronounced “wee”).

I’m with Engadget reader H20:

Why not just call it the Nintendo WTF?



Just when you thought spam couldn’t get any weirder… this is the subject line for what I presume is some sort of rude site:

frig hockied on her baz0ongie$

Either spam is getting more strange, or my knowledge of smutty terms is wayyyyy out of date.


I shouldn’t laugh, but I did

From this week’s edition of The Onion: