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on shopping - at christmas, in france and elsewhere

In Frogland, you will often be asked if you want things wrapped for presents, the item is then wrapped professionally and prettily, ready for giving. This happens whether or not it is ‘the time for giving’.

During December, outside the cash tills, many supermarkets have rows of tables complete with wrapping servants, wrapping paper, ribbon etc. (This often done in exchange for a donation to a local charity.)

The rest of the year, there’s to be a do-it-yourself wrapping station. This used to dispznse free wrapping paper. It was very interesting to watch, if bored. There were the greedy bastards that sneaked up and took as much as the can get away with, furtively looking around while tightly rolling their spoils, and rapidly tearing it off if they think someone notices.

Even more fascinating is when one person grabs some, others notice and then sidle over for a go; then there is a lull while the roll sits lonely waiting for the next assault wave. Now the free paper has gone and instead there are wrapping paper dispensers - a euro for a metre or some such.

Humans are seriously weird.

Often I go into shops that are empty, within a few seconds many other pour in and crowd the place out.

I've a good wheeze I'd sell to shop keepers if I had any entrepreneurial ambitions. Get a realistic statue of me and place it where it can easily be seen from outside! Their shops would be full ever after.

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using state-of-the-art solar energy, dubai

Another project by the money-bags of Dubai. An 80,000 tonne tower planned to turn a complete 360° every 7 days. The base of the tower is to move at 5mm per second, apparently using about 40kW provided via PV solar power.

“Singh said the company plans to build 23 more rotating towers in each of the world's time zones with finance provided by investors linked to the company.”

“A distinctive time line runs down the building that meets 12 o'clock markings on the ground and the podium, allowing observers to use the building as a fully functioning time piece.”

British designed.



Time Residences, Dubai. Image credit: Glen Howells Architects

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architectural wonders and joys

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hilarious as long as you are suitably silly!

The Philips Norelco Bodygroom all-in-one system to shave and trim body hair.
Image credit: Philips

There is a highly-bleeped advertising speel from the scraped, scrubbed and polished young man, supplemented by fruity illustrations, on this (cumbersome) flash-generated site.

the web address for the article above is

the shortest day is upon you - fog and ice complains at the long lost sun

But fear not.

This is the worst it gets. Each day now, the sun gets more powerful as it starts its return from the long journey south.

May all pagans and more modern revisionists welcome the returning giver of life.

Happy solstice to all our fans and amusements.

All yaks be praised.

Confetti be upon you!

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the mother of all swiss-army knives - the auroran sunset

Is this a windup? $1200 [£495] for 85 tools in one smallish package:

giant swiss army knife. Image credit Wenger. A giant Wenger Swiss army knife. Photograph: David Levene
© Wenger Giant Wenger Swiss army knife. Photograph: David Levene

“The Giant Collector's Knife features a wide range of Wenger tools including seven blades, three types of pliers, and seemingly countless screwdrivers, saws, wrenches, and other tools. Additionally, some of the more unique implements included are a bicycle chain rivet setter, signal whistle, cigar-cutting scissors, laser pointer, tire-tread gauge, and the requisite toothpick, tweezers, and key ring. This knife weighs two pounds and eleven ounces, measures slightly under 9" wide, and features Wenger's revolutionary EVO ergonomic handles for easier gripping and control.”

  • Weight: 2 lbs, 11 ounces
  • Width: 8.75" wide
  • Lifetime warranty

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“Wenger was not the first company to make Swiss Army knives. That was Victorinox, founded by the Swiss cutler Karl Elsener, who was appalled to discover that the Swiss army was supplied with knives by Germany. He began making knives for his country's armed forces , and from 1893 faced competition from another Swiss firm - the one that later became Wenger. In 1908, the Swiss government brokered a deal whereby the army would take half its knives from Victorinox and half from Wenger. Victorinox would be allowed to claim that they made "the original Swiss Army Knife", while Wenger would be allowed to call theirs "the genuine Swiss Army Knife".

“This gentlemanly disbursement of epithets will no doubt strike some as irritating: "Bloody Swiss. Always so bloody reasonable!" Such people will be further irritated to learn that when, in 2005, Wenger overextended itself with an ambitious product launch, Victorinox intervened in brotherly fashion, to acquire the company, preserve the brand and stop it falling into foreign hands.” [Quoted from guardian.co.uk]

Note that the Wenger giant knife does not have a hoofpick, that instrument is not part of their range. The Guardian article incorrectly claims that the tool for removing stones from horses’ hooves is mythical, but to obtain this almost legendary tool you have to buy a Victorinox knife.

The current complete range of Swiss Army knives from both Wenger and Victorinox.

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go on - hit him, hit him

It’s not funny, it really peally isn’t.

Getting into the spirit with Nintendo Wii

“Some over-enthusiastic gamers have hurled their remote control through the TV screen in excitement and caused black eyes, cut fingers and bruised heads. One video posted on YouTube features a player showing his “Wii-scars” after being cut by shards of a glass lightshade smashed by a wayward Wii remote.

“Damage to household items ranges from broken windows to smashed laptop computers and broken ceiling fans.

“The over-exertion caused by playing video tennis, in which gamers swing the remote like a tennis racket, prompted the Wall Street Journal to dub the new ailment “Wii elbow”.”

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humour isn’t dead - .and it’s not just a joke!

Taste ... worth dying for! Image credit: heartattackgrill.com

“Home of the quadruple bypass burger.”

“[...] the Heart Attack Grill and its employees do NOT offer any therapeutic treatments (aside from laughter) whatsoever.”

Advertising slogan: “taste ... worth dying for!”.

The proprietors claim that their web site is receiving more traffic than McDonalds.

the web address for the article above is

learning from history... - the auroran sunset

Short video (2'38'') of an experiment testing how much various Australian organisations have learnt from the Trojan War.

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house moving

Moving a Queen Anne Victorian house across Tampas Bay, near to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Image credit: heraldtribune.com

“ "One hundred years ago in Manatee county, houses were moved like this all the time without the hydraulics and the big trucks," says Cathy Slusser, a historian with the Manatee County Clerk of Courts. "They moved houses back and forth across the river from Bradenton to Palmetto and back because they recycled material so I knew it was possible to do. But it was still thrilling to see it happen."

“The Victorian manor is being moved to make room for a new condo and retail development on Riverside Drive. New owners will remodel the manor in Ruskin and use it as a retreat for pastors and missionaries.”

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“The move brought resolution to the question of what would happen to the home after Suncoast Developers stepped in to purchase the property and build office and retail space. The city made it clear - the development plan could only go forward if the house was preserved. Bob Breeden, president of Suncoast, took the condition seriously and started looking into options, but the local historical commission didn't have enough land to take the house. Coincidentally the Corbetts were searching for a threatened home to save and move to their Ruskin property.

“Breeden donated the home to them for $1 provided they took responsibility for moving the structure. Transplanting a house like the Lamb Manor can cost about $250,000, but the moving company requested the price for this move not be disclosed.” [Quoted from heraldtoday.com]

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The Sunshine Skyway Bridge, at 29,040 feet long (5.5 miles/approximately 8.85 km), is reportedly the longest cable-stayed concrete bridge in the world. However, only the central spans are cable-stayed - the longest span being 1200 feet (366 m), the rest is lengthy causeways supported on concrete piers. The name comes from the cable stays that are painted bright taxicab yellow.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge, St. Petersburg and Bradenton, Florida. Image credit: Figg Engineering

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Highest, longest : the Viaduct de Millau | France
video footage of the move (click on “Victorian manor floats under the Sunshine Skyway”)


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key 9/11 truth website taken down - not!

“Written in message news:ee65ab$t0f$1@registered.motzarella.org:

“www.paranoiaplanet.com is no longer up and running! The Bush Monkeys have taken it down!

“It sure is funny how the human minds works:

  1. Someone on Usenet [newsgroups on the Internet, a bit like a bulletin board] mocks www.prisonplanet.com by calling it www.paranoiaplanet.com
  2. Someone else on Usenet clicks the link and finds out the “site is down,” nor is there any reference to it anywhere
  3. The missing website is now officially a “CIA/Bush conspiracy” even though the domain and the site never existed in the first place.”

Everyone knows that site was set up by Bush and the CIA in order to cover up what they’re really planning.

the web address for the article above is


A police gnome. Image credit: Press Association

“Now police have served Mr MacKillop with a notice for "placing a garden gnome with intent to cause harassment".

“Mr MacKillop, 46, was woken in the night by two officers who warned him that the gnome was offensive to his neighbours.

“The notice, under the Protection From Harassment Act 1997, also accuses Mr MacKillop of intimidating potential buyers of Mr McLean's £209,000 cottage.

“Mr McLean has told officers that the garden gnome, which comes complete with police dog and solar light, was in an "annoying position".”

the web address for the article above is

how to annoy people who are stealing your bandwidth - the auroran sunset

Wireless networks are fundamentally insecure. You can encrypt the data you send around the network quite easily, but stopping someone else using your wireless network is almost impossible. Those that created the wireless network standards - 802.11 and WEP - screwed up multiple times. See here for the history.

“War drivers” - as those that drove round Silicon Valley breaking into wireless networks from their nondescript white vans were called - can be a serious pain. The Silicon Valley ones were after trade secrets. In the more mundane world of suburbia, many unscrupulous neighbours use next-door’s wireless network to gain free internet access. This is very similar to the ‘leeching’ problem described in our red-x document. Techies running a wireless network at home often come up with novel ways to deal with their thieving neighbours. Here is one of the most amusing example I’ve seen:

“My neighbours are stealing my wireless internet access. I could encrypt it or alternately I could have fun.”

That last linked page has fairly simple code for setting up your Linux machine [1] to turn images upside-down or blurry on the browsers of people who have hacked into your wireless network. The page also has screenshots showing the effects.

The fun is carried out using Linux’s highly versatile free command-line image manipulation tool, Mogrify. Like many command-line tools in Linux, once you understand Mogrify, it is incredibly powerful, quick and useful; but getting to the position of understanding is not the easiest of things. The linked manual for Mogrify is typical of Linux command-line tools - it does tell you everything about how to use the program, but in such a way that almost nobody will understand without significant amounts of trial-and-error and/or prior knowledge.

This sort of problem is a large part of why Linux has far fewer users than the Windows operating systems, despite Linux being much more powerful, much better written and supported, and orders of magnitude cheaper. There has already been significant improvement since I first tried running Linux boxes eight years ago; it is only a matter of time before these problems are fixed by the thousands of volunteer writers in the open-source community. No wonder Microsoft tries to falsely equate “open-source” with “software piracy” in the minds of the unwary.


1. The suggested networking wizardry is very easy to do in a Linux operating system, or another Unix-based operating system. With a little work, I’m fairly sure you could find a way with Mac OSX, which incorporates OpenBSD - another open-source Unix-like operating system. Something similar may be possible with the tools Microsoft provide with something like Window Server, but who would pay to find out? There are probably third-party Windows tools that will do the job for those with a more normal setup (Window 98, Windows ME, Windows XP Home, etc.) - how well they work and how much you’d have to pay is another matter. [Please email us if you have more definitive information about ways to do this in non-Unix/BSD-based operating systems.]

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rebranding the bliar broadcasting cartel - interesting new logo proposed

Lead from samizdata

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memorial day airshow over new york - the auroran sunset

[Images source: Victoria Arocho - www.rockarho.com]

l to r: F15 Eagle, F16 Fighting Falcon, P51 Mustang
background: Empire State Building and Manhattan
T6 Texan training planes
background: Jones Beach amphitheatre, Long Island
  l to r: P51 Mustang, F16 Fighting Falcon, F15 Eagle, A10 Warthog
background: Statue of Liberty
Click on images for larger versions

The Jones Beach Airshow site has dozens of other photographs.

The F.A.S. web-site has lots of information on American and other military aircraft.

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biofuel yuk

How else to run your SUVs in a commie country?

“Vietnamese catfish processor and exporter Agifish plans to turn catfish fat into fuel to run diesel engines, a company official said on Monday.”

“The state-run Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper on Monday quoted Ho Xuan Thien, the chief engineer of the project, as saying the firm planned to build a 10,000-tonne-per-year factory in 2007 to mass produce the fuel for domestic markets.”

related material
bio fuel

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the objectivity of greenpeace

“Before President Bush touched down in Pennsylvania Wednesday to promote his nuclear energy policy, the environmental group Greenpeace was mobilizing.

“This volatile and dangerous source of energy" is no answer to the country's energy needs, shouted a Greenpeace fact sheet decrying the "threat" posed by the Limerick reactors Bush visited.

“But a factoid or two later, the Greenpeace authors were stumped while searching for the ideal menacing metaphor.

“We present it here exactly as it was written, capital letters and all: "In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE].”

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fossil fuel disasters
is nuclear power really really dangerous?

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entrepreneurship - fuel prices

“[...] one car dealership had a "rotisserie program" where people wanting new cars would go to the dealer who would hire an arsonist, collect the insurance and sell them a new car. Now,with rising gas prices, big cars and long leases, torching is hot again. Just call your local arsonist, leave $ 300 in the glove box and goodbye gas guzzling SUV, [...] ”

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more psycho-babble: i’m not telling you what this ‘syndrome’ is called!

“ "It is news to a lot of people, even those who are specialists in mental health services, that such a large proportion of the population has these clinically significant anger attacks," said Ronald Kessler of Harvard Medical School, lead author of the study in the Archives of General Psychiatry.”

“ [...] more common in young men and people with low education and income. The first episode occurs around age 13 in males and 19 in females. They typically feel a sense of relief during outbursts, but are remorseful afterward.”

“ [...] can be treated with anti-depressants such as Prozac and Zoloft. In about 70 percent of cases, the drugs give patients a longer fuse before they blow up. The drugs are "reasonably effective, but not a magic bullet," Coccaro said.

“Patients also need behavioral therapy to control their anger. For example, when they feel they are about to explode, patients should take a "time out" by perhaps walking around the block, Coccaro said. ”

What do they call this supposed syndrome?

Click here for the answer. (requires JavaScript).

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establishment psycho-bunk 6 - 'traumatic' 'syndromes' or 'curing' P.E.S.Ts

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scientific warning labels - the auroran sunset

As scientists and concerned citizens, we applaud the recent trend towards legislation that requires the prominent placing of warnings on products that present hazards to the general public. Yet we must also offer the cautionary thought that such warnings, however well-intentioned, merely scratch the surface of what is really necessary in this important area. This is especially true in light of the findings of 20th century physics.

We are therefore proposing that, as responsible scientists, we join together in an intensive push for new laws that will mandate the conspicuous placement of suitably informative warnings on the packaging of every product offered for sale in the United States of America. Our Suggested list of required warnings appears below.

Caution: The Mass of This Product Contains the Energy Equivalent of 85 Million Tons of TNT per Net Ounce of Weight.

Handle with Extreme Care: This Product Contains Minute Electrically Charged Particles Moving at Velocities in Excess of Five Hundred Million Miles per Hour.

Public Notice as Required by Law: Any Use of This Product, in Any Manner Whatsoever, Will Increase the Amount of Disorder in the Universe. Although No Liability Is Implied Herein, the Consumer Is Warned That This Process Will Ultimately Lead to the Heat Death of the Universe.

Health Warning: Care Should Be Taken When Lifting This Product, Since Its Mass, and Thus Its Weight, Is Dependent on Its Velocity Relative to the User.

And many many more...

Lead from Samizdata

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believe it or not!

The consumer society comes of age. Three incredible productions that someone somewhere designed and made, and now intend to sell.

You will never ever know how you lived without them.


keep your pooch dry

“The Pet Umbrella keeps your pet dry and comfortable in rain, sleet or snow.

“$18.95 ”

pet umbrella. Image credit:Rescue Pet Store

scope watch. Image credit: tokyoflash.com

for those with serious time and money to spare (and a strong arm)

“Press the scan control for the time of day, where The Scope springs into action, moving its x and y axis until it’s honed in on the appropriate coordinates. The time is represented by the x-axis for hours and the y-axis for minutes.


By the time you have worked out the time, it'll be some other time!

Portable bathtub. Image credit: uncrate.com

imported local customs - cook the neighbours
only $5625

PS, go easy on the salt.

Picked up on three useful sites (two geek, one consumer).

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