You're nicked, my son

From the BBC: "The government is considering giving police officers across the UK 'stop and question' powers under new anti-terror laws, says the Home Office."

Oh great, it's back to the Sus Laws again. And didn't they do well for all concerned (check out the brief Wiki entry)? To paraphrase Not The Nine O' Clock News, Reason for arrest, constable? "The suspect was seen to be wearing a hijab in a predominantly middle-class area."

The words 'thin' 'end' and 'wedge' come to mind. One to resist methinks...

More here.


Maddie in perspective

It's not often that I quote The Sun, but this is worth it:

...in the 22 days since the four-year-old [Madeline McCann] went missing, an estimated 1,100 other children under 16 have vanished from homes in Britain.

One gets hordes of journalists, front pages and satellite uplink trucks. The others languish forgotten in a mass paragraph on the inside pages. Makes you think, don't it?


Human joysticks

I'll let Boing Boing describe this:

MSNBC.com has done a deal with cinemas in the US to replace the dumb pre-movie ads with a giant, participatory game. The game is Newsbreaker, a simple break-out style game that rewards you for clearing lines by dropping real-time RSS news headlines, but the gameplay is the cool part: a motion sensor in the theater allows the entire audience to control the paddle by swaying in unison from side to side. Check out the video of the gameplay at a Spiderman 3 opening weekend screening in LA (given what a steaming CGI turd Spidey 3 is, this was probably the best part of the movie, apart from being harassed by night-scoped teenagers looking for camcorder pirates). These people are having insane fun.

Which is all well and good, but it's going to be a bit odd before a Truffaut retrospective at the NFT.


I Span Eddie Irvine’s Jaguar

There are not many phonecalls you get out of the blue that ask whether you’d like to go to Sweden and drive an F1 car. In fact, they’ve been a distinct rarity in my life so far, so when I finally did get one from my chum Sadie at Bubble & Squeak I said yes first and checked the diary...well, I’m not sure if I ever did actually. In which case if we were meant to do something last Tuesday, sorry about that.

The event was a corporate jolly run for some existing and potential customers by Digital Vision and my brief was to fly out, join in, and write it all up for their website afterwards. Which, after a few warm up stints in a Formula Opel Lotus, is how I came to find myself strapped in Eddie Irvine’s old Jaguar from the 2000 season barrelling down the main straight of the Scandinavian Raceway in Anderstorp at Bloody Stupid mph and into the braking zone. Into the perilously short and getting shorter by the nanosecond braking zone, that is.

Somewhere between the stamping down on the brake pedal, the changing down from fifth to fourth to third and a speed which was a bit less Bloody Stupid and turning the steering wheel, it all got a bit messy and the next thing I knew I had pirouetted the car 180 degrees and was going backwards. Brake in, clutch in, stall, swear, wait for a push, drive past the pit wall and 20 people glaring at me and shaking their heads, blush inside helmet. The glares were fair enough. After hearing the screech of tyres from the other side of the circuit, most of them had briefly thought they might be trying to find something else to do in Anderstorp on a Tuesday afternoon – which would have been a challenge even for the combined brainpower of Soho’s finest as the bars looked shut.

So, I didn’t push it in the corners again. Just pootled through them (if you can, in fact, pootle in a car weighing 520kg and boasting something in the region of 600 horsepower) and saved the adrenaline buzz for the straight. Then it was out of the corner in third, fourth, fifth, quick realisation of the fact that you’re in fifth gear and like a discerning gentleman in a Newbury nightclub, the thing is still desperate to accelerate over the horizon, then stamp on the brakes, stamp harder on the brakes, and *gingerly* tip-toe round the corner. Every time you changed gear it was like one of those 600 horses had come round the front of the car and decided to sit on you in the cockpit. Five laps of that and you felt trampled

One guy had a GPS in his pocket as he went round and it logged him at 173kph on the straight, which is only 107mph. Maybe some went faster, maybe some went slower (the centre has had several cases of people just pootling round at 30mph and being ecstatic enough with that thankyouverymuch). What that figure doesn’t convey though is the speed you get up to it and the speed you get back down from it again and the sheer noise and bluster, ferocity and g-forces that occur while you’re doing it. Plus the fact that, well...you’ve just driven an F1 car. An F1 car! Holy shit...

Apart from the fact that my Seat Ibiza 1.4 feels a tad underpowered now, two things occur to me. One, any time anyone ever tries to impress me with their car’s performance for the rest of my life, the appropriate response will be ‘Meh’ at best. Two, I always thought F1 drivers are mad. Now I *know* they are.

http://www.rajamakiracing.com/ if you ever want a go yourself...


Sci Fi weddings

As the site says: Young ladies planning their wedding sometimes want to recreate a fairytale fantasy for the big event. Their fiances sometimes counter by arguing that any decent childhood fantasy would involve light sabers.

More here.


Here cometh the future

A long but interesting speech by SF author Charles Stross on the future and what it holds. His main thrust is that of life-logging, technology converging to provide humans with vast amounts of external storage, information access and key tools. Remember MIT's Wearable Computer Project where a bloke walked round with several tens of kilos of badly hacked Pentium wrapped round his body? Well, nothing like that.

Total history — a term I'd like to coin, by analogy to total war — is something we haven't experienced yet. I'm really not sure what its implications are, but then, I'm one of the odd primitive shadows just visible at one edge of the archive: I expect to live long enough to be lifelogging, but my first forty or fifty years are going to be very poorly documented, mere gigabytes of text and audio to document decades of experience. What I can be fairly sure of is that our descendants' relationship with their history is going to be very different from our own, because they will be able to see it with a level of depth and clarity that nobody has ever experienced before.

Meet your descendants. They don't know what it's like to be involuntarily lost, don't understand what we mean by the word "privacy", and will have access (sooner or later) to a historical representation of our species that defies understanding. They live in a world where history has a sharply-drawn start line, and everything they individually do or say will sooner or later be visible to everyone who comes after them, forever. They are incredibly alien to us.


Putting the Great into Britain

The Guardian's Tim Dowling looks at Blair's speech saying this is a blessed country and comes up with a load of reasons why 'tis so.

American-born writer Tim Dowling on what makes Britain great | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited
Some hit the nail right on the head, to whit:

Your amusing national hypochondria
Despite its comparative cosiness, Britain has an unshakable view of itself as a nation that is forever falling to pieces. If you watch the television you see a crumbling health service, falling educational standards, rampant gun crime, infrastructural chaos, economic meltdown and a fractured civilisation well beyond repair. Look out the window, and you see someone throwing a stick for a dog. This might not seem like such a great advertisement for a country, unless you have lived some place where it's the other way round.

Lovely to have the opportunity to write 'to whit' again...

Silbury Hill opened up (again)

Looks like a team is planning on reopening one of the tunnels dug into Silbury Hill over the centuries to see if they can get any better idea of it's purpose. And afterwards, they'll stabilise things properly by dumping loads of chalk into the archaeological rabbit warren that succesive digs have created.
BBC NEWS | England | Wiltshire | Tunnel to re-open at mystery hill
Hope they succeed. Driving over the crest of a hill between two obvious burial mounds on the A4 and seeing a mini-'pyramid' plonked in the middle of the countryside must rate as one of the more surreal experiences to be had in this country.


Zero G for Zero £

Well, not quite. In fact, quite a long way from no £, but the following graph in Wired shows the cost per minute of a weightless experience.

Yup, Zero G is by far and away the cheapest, clocking in at under $500 per minute. It uses modified 727s to fly a series of 15 parabolic arcs, giving you your weightless experience in 30 second chunks, and flies out of Las Vegas or Kennedy Space Centre at a cost of $3500 a seat.

Virgin Galactic meanwhile will charge you $200,000 for flying the same sort of parabola, albeit at 100km + altitudes. And you get stuck with Branson and a whole host of celebrities from the world of fashion, music and film. Pah. At least Zero G has Stephen Hawking floating around on its webpage.