Saturday 30 January 2010

More by Tanita.

I found this on Ms Tikaram's own blog,   (Yes, blogspot... i found that whilst wondering what she's doing these days...  just completed another album, which I look forward to hearing.)
She says "I was delighted by this version of "Twist in My Sobriety" played by young Guitarist Sungha Jung. I’m a bit jealous too, he plays it much better than me and I wrote it !!"

He plays amazingly well,  but differently, his rendition is a bit more sharp-edged, where hers was mellow, I like mellow.

Thursday 28 January 2010

The World Outside Your Window

In 1988, an eighteen year old girl, fresh out of school, recorded an  album of her songs, titled "Ancient Heart", I bought it. I admit, I was smitten. Sigh. Because she was an ancient heart, how could these songs come from a suburban schoolgirl? It still seems so unlikely. She would dance, spinning, eyes closed as she sang, and played guitar, a deep, solemn voice, I loved it. Um. and she was not exactly hard upon the eye.
She is :
Tanita Tikaram.

Everyone has said that I might go
'Cos my red suitcase and my ray-bans
Weren't quite so...
I'd bear the heavy wind and rain that falls
I'll never come back again
'Cos you know how I laugh when winter shows her hand
Well, that picture frame is the saddest thing you'll see
But it bought me time and a place that love could be
And since I'm going now please rearrange
'Cos I'd like to think that things have changed
I don't believe you'll be open anymore

So tell me if, you want to see
A world outside your window
A world outside your window isn't free
Oh, and tell me if you wanna catch that feeling of redemption
That feeling of redemption doesn't do much for me

Well, everyone was hoping you would stay a while
Tell us 'bout that great land in the south
I see that man - now ain't he under offer?
I tell you child you go wash out your mouth

Tell me if, you want to see
A world outside your window
A world outside your window isn't free
And tell me if you wanna catch that feeling of redemption
That feeling of redemption doesn't do much for me

What can you say
I'm hiding in the belfry
What can you say - I want to catch time
How can you say you know anything about me
Well I knew about you - but I won't care about you

Everyone has come to see. Well some things have to die
Flowers out for this photographic haunt, but they all pass me by
But the age is not a funny game, it don't give such a buzz
And when I winced with ignorance
I had to kiss this dust. 
Tell me if, you want to see
A world outside your window
A world outside your window isn't free
And tell me if you wanna catch that feeling of redemption
That feeling of redemption doesn't do much for me
 Twist in My Sobriety
All God's children need travelling shoes Drive your problems from here All good people read good books Now your conscience is clear I hear you talk girl Now your conscience is clear In the morning I wipe my brow Wipe the miles away I like to think I can be so willed And never do what you say I'll never hear you And never do what you say Look my eyes are just holograms Look your love has drawn red from my hands From my hands you know you'll never be More than a twist in my sobriety More than a twist in my sobriety We just baked an empty pie For the fun people had at night Late at night don't need hostility The timid smile and pause to free I don't care about their different thoughts Different thoughts are good for me Up in arms and chaste and whole All God's children took their toll Look my eyes are just holograms Look your love has drawn red from my hands From my hands you know you'll never be More than twist in my sobriety More than twist in my sobriety Cup of tea, take time to think, yea Time to risk a life, a life, a life Sweet and handsome Soft and porky You pig out 'til you've seen the light Pig out 'til you've seen the light
Look my eyes are just holograms 
Look your love has drawn red from my hands
From my hands you know you'll never be
More than a twist in my sobriety
More than a twist in my sobriety

Saturday 23 January 2010


Something of a break with my normal post content.
In the news recently is the trial of John Demjanjuk, who is accused of having been a guard at the Sobibor concentration camp.
Demjanjuk is 89 years old, he is sick, and is wheeled into the court.
He was sentenced to death by an Israeli court, in 1988, on the grounds that he had been a guard at Treblinka known as "Ivan the Terrible". It was alleged that he was one of the two Ukrainians who ran the gas chamber there.
He had been, for twenty five or so years, a car worker in Cleveland, Ohio. The people there saw him as an ordinary man, nothing to fear.
Yet he was extradited to Israel as a war criminal, a vile sadist, Ivan the Terrible. He was found guilty, sentenced to death...  and then acquitted, because, after all that, it was found he was NOT Ivan the terrible.
After  five years on death row, he was again in court to hear the Israeli Supreme court overturn his conviction, with clear evidence that "Ivan" was a different man, and papers that showed Demjanjuk in a different place at the time of the events of which he was accused. Some of those papers had been knowingly withheld from the courts previously by the U.S. government.
Anyway, Demjanjuk, who had been in the grip of various justice systems since the nineteen seventies was released. Not to return home to the U.S., though, it was clear that, even though he had been proved not to be Ivan, he had probably been, in 1943, at Sobibor.

A couple of days ago, a Sobibor survivor testified in court in Munich, to the terrible things that happened there. No, he couldn't identify Demjanjuk, but, he said, the Ukrainian guards were the worst, and if Demjanjuk was one, then he was guilty.
It seems to me that this witness' testimony would not normally have been accepted in most courts. It merely re-iterated what we already knew, that Sobibor was a place where people were murdered in large numbers. The witness had no knowledge whatsoever of the defendant.

 The key point seem to be "was this man at Sobibor?" if it can be proved that he was, then was he a guard? And if he was a guard, was he a war-criminal, was he guilty of mass-murder?

He's been, effectively, a prisoner, facing death, since the nineteen seventies. Whatever he did at Sobibor, under the orders of the SS, as a captured soldier in the Russian army, he did as a young man, not as the person he is now. He claims he worked there as a farm labourer, as a prisoner of war, not as a guard. No Sobibor survivor has identified him as a guard.
Following the war, "according to an article in news magazine Der Spiegel on the legacy of German guilt, of over 100,000 investigations that were carried out in postwar Germany into Nazi crimes, only around 6,500 people were convicted. Thirteen death sentences were passed, 167 life sentences, and the rest received shorter prison sentences or fines. Only a fifth of those convictions were for murder".
Generally, the courts went for those who had freely, of their own will, committed war-crimes, and subordinates, following explicit orders were treated as less culpable.
 Out of all those nazis, only 13 were sentenced to death at Nuremberg. The heaviest sanctions were for the persons who devised and oversaw the atrocities.  Yet now, we have an old man who nobody seems to be able to say more against him than that there is an identity card that appears to place him at Sobibor in 1943.

That seems to be it. No evidence as to what he might have done there, just an I.D.card which might be him, 1943.

It seems to me that post-war Germany was full of people provably involved, knowingly, in mass murder, who have not been pursued by the courts. That the Allies snapped up german personnel with direct links to slave-labour and death camps, Werner Von Braun being a prime example. German chemists were in great demand. The companies that made the poison gases used in the camps still exist, the railway workers who drove millions to their deaths, they were required to rebuild germany, as were so many with blood on their hands.

Some might remember another war, Viet-Nam, and the My Lai massacre. 2nd Lt William Calley ordered his men to destroy a village, and wipe out its inhabitants, a non-combatant village that offered no resistance. According to U.S. records 347 civilians were killed, though U.S. personnel made no body count at the time, Vietnamese records, and the names on the memorial there, say the number was 504. Men, women, children, babies.
Some of the women were gang-raped by members of c-company, bodies were found with "C-company" carved into their chests. People sheltering in a ditch were machine-gunned, others were burned in their huts, any who tried to escape were shot or bayoneted to death. The death toll would have been greater were it not for a helicopter crew who put themselves into the line of fire, and contacted headquarters, to protect survivors.
How did those men, clearly placed and identified as killers and rapists, as the committers of an atrocity, fare? There was no doubt there, Calley was there, he ordered the killings. C-Company carried them out. With gusto.
26 soldiers were charged with criminal offences. Only one, Calley,  was convicted, despite there being eye witnesses and photographic evidence.

Extract from the testimony of Paul Meadlo

"He  (Calley)said, "How come they're not dead?" I said, I didn't know we were supposed to kill them." He said, I want them dead." He backed off twenty or thirty feet and started shooting into the people -- the Viet Cong -- shooting automatic. He was beside me. He burned four or five magazines. I burned off a few, about three. I helped shoot ‘em.
Q: What were the people doing after you shot them?

A: They were lying down.

Q: Why were they lying down?

A: They was mortally wounded.

Q: How were you feeling at that time?

A: I was mortally upset, scared, because of the briefing we had the day before.

Q: Were you crying?

A: I imagine I was....

Q: What were the children in the ditch doing?
A: I don't know.

Q: Were the babies in their mother's arms?

A: I guess so.

Q: And the babies moved to attack?

A: I expected at any moment they were about to make a counterbalance.

Q: Had they made any move to attack?

A: No."

"Nineteen-year-old Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tuyet watched a baby trying to open her slain mother's blouse to nurse. A soldier shot the infant while it was struggling with the blouse, and the slashed at it with his bayonet. Tuyet also said she saw another baby hacked to death by GIs wielding their bayonets. Le Tong, a twenty-eight-year-old rice farmer, reported seeing one woman raped after GIs killed her children . Nguyen Khoa, a thirty-seven- year-old peasant, told of a thirteen-year-old girl who was raped before being killed. GIs then attacked Khoa's wife, tearing off her clothes. Before they could rape her, however, Khoa said, their six-year-old son, riddled with bullets, fell and saturated her with blood. The GIs left her alone then"

Lt William Calley was sentenced to Life Imprisonment with Hard labour, but in reality, he served four and a half months in jail at Fort Benning, and the rest of his three-year sentence under comfortable house-arrest at Fort Benning. And then he was freed.

Compare the evidence against these American soldiers, and the single sentence served, with the case of John Demjanjuk.
It seems to me that John Demjanjuk is being treated as a scapegoat, that Germany is focussing on him being Ukrainian, in an attempt to forget the truth, that Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz, all those horrors and sins were created by Germany.
What is served, by this witch-hunt, where nobody alive can remember the defendant being there? Surely, it's time now to let it go, stop endlessly chasing revenge, 67 years have gone by.
Even if he was there, a guard, 67 years ago, isn't this time enough to say "Let God decide".

There was, and still is, a considerable support for Calley, many in the u.s.military were angry that any trial took place, witnesses were threatened. It was said that the experiences of soldiers in war made such events excusable.
Demjanjuk had been fighting in the Russian Red Army, on the eastern front. It is well documented that soviet captives were treated far more harshly than western allies.

I  realise that some readers will think I'm an apologist for the nazi cause, an anti semitic fascist.
I'm not.
It's just that this case has been in the news for the last week, and it got me to thinking about concepts of justice and revenge, and asking myself what the purpose is of this trial.

Computer Fail. Huge.

I'm very annoyed.
I'd say I'm mad, but that might be too revealing a glimpse into my mental state. I want a gun. One that shoots lots of bullets. Not too fast, I want the bastard to suffer, not to be gone in a zzzzzzzzzzzzzippp! moment. Who?

Him. That damned computer. Normally he stays on, all the time, just sits there on his shelf, humming slightly. I'd post a pic, but I can't, as I'm pecking this out on the laptop, and the laptop and I have only a weak truce. Real computer, the thing with too many hard drives to count, he's my real adversary.
See, windows demanded a reboot, after yet another security update, and computer hung on the motherboard startup screen. then I tried again, got windows started, only to have it freeze. Damn. try again... multiple times,
Sometimes we get to the boot screen, sometimes not. That's bad, because it suggests the problem is not in Windows, but right at the root, at the motherboard, at the place where the lizard-brain of computer cognisance resides, the part that has to wake and see what drives are present, which one to look for booting instructions from. And that part keeps saying "No OS"- no operating system.  Pithed frog.
This laptop should be the key to salvation, via the netgear wireless N router. But guess what. The Netgear Wireless N router, whose sales receipt I can not find, seems not to want to do the wireless stuff for which I spent good money.
The laptop can see a number of other networks, all secured, but not the one about ten feet away. nor  can my phone detect a wireless signal there.
So I can't sit in the armchair, and use the laptop, I have to be tethered by a wired connection. Which rather loses the whole point of a laptop, with its inferior keyboard and nasty mousepad.
This thing's an Acer Aspire 5735Z, It looks nice and shiny,  I suppose. I bought it a few months ago, and I'd be a lot happier about it if its speakers didn't sound like wasps in jam-jars, and if the bluetooth symbol on a keyboard button didn't bring up a "No Bluetooth Device" message. In short, if only it wasn't a glossy fraud. When I bought it, I kinda liked the idea of watching movies on it and listening to music, using it with my bluetooth headset for skype, and  so on. But it doesn't do bluetooth, and its sound stinks, and i hate HATE wired headsets.
Anyway, we're  digressing. The object of my rant is the main computer. i powered it down, unplugged and replugged everything on the mainboard, tried again a thousand times. It's dead.
So do I go out to buy a new one?
but maybe it's the drive with XP on it?
Oh. And a new one would take Sata drives, not IDE drives, and the four drives I have are, you guessed it, IDE.
So I'd need to buy a new hard drive too. And a new motherboard would take, almost certainly, different memory. Mine has 2GB of 333 DDR, a new one would take faster than 333, so... my oh my, buy new memory too. And I'd need to be able to get the data off my old drives too,  so an IDE to USB adaptor neede. See how it's all mounting up? see why I'm not a happy bunny?
Oh. and the joys of reinstalling windows too. Assuming I can find the disc and the serial numbers, assuming it will let me use that on a new motherboard.

Or maybe it's cheaper on the long run just to buy a ready-built box, running windows 7?
I know nobody wanted to read that rant, but it's therapeutic for me to write it.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

R.I.P.Kate McGarrigle.

Singer Kate McGarrigle 1946-2010.
Sister of Anna, mother of Martha and Rufus Wainwright, died of cancer, 18th January 2010, aged 63, at her home in Montreal, Canada.

Her hair was dyed black and she was bending down
Picking something from off the ground
She was seventeen
And he said, "Oh my God, it's Kate"
She said "No, I'm the daughter of Kate
My name is Martha, who are you?
Ma never told me, never told me 'bout you"
He put his big middle-aged hands upon her shoulders
And he looked her in the eyes
Just like a boy of nineteen would do
And she was not afraid
No, she was not afraid
Once upon a time two kids in love in a car were flyin' over mountains
Trying to catch a boat that'd take 'em up river to home...
And they raced the Matapedia
Sixty minutes sixty miles
Thirty minutes thirty miles
Twenty minutes twenty miles
Ten nine eight....
And I was not afraid
No, I was not afraid
Well we made the boat with minutes to spare
And we crossed on over to the other side
And back home, safe and sound
But I could not slow down
No, I could not slow down
And we raced the Matapedia
Sixty minutes sixty miles
Thirty minutes thirty miles
Twenty minutes twenty miles
Ten nine eight
But I could not slow down
No, I could not slow down
I was not afraid
No, I was not afraid
I could not slow down 'cause I was not afraid

Friday 15 January 2010

Another Day.

I start early, these days, just getting to work is tricky enough, as the salt has run out, roads are not cleared... We're trying to keep our sites cleared, but, well, put it this way, I fall asleep not long after I get home, and I've no energy left to think of anything much.

Recently.... somewhat of a thaw, taking away a lot of snow, then a hard freeze, then rain and freeze again. Imagine a world surfaced with a layer of slippery ice. Ambulance services reported their busiest day in decades on tuesday. I lost count of the people I saw fall, and the cars and vans I saw crash.

And the buses sliding sideways? and the taxi that landed on a factory roof?
Even the highway gritters weren't immune, at least three slid off the road in my area.
Wish me luck, time to do battle with the ice again. Back in ten or twelve hours.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday 9 January 2010

A Morning's Snow

Well, I went over to my mother's house, -she's been away for a while, staying with my brother just north of London. First thing I noticed when I went in, that it was rather cool indoors. So I turned the thermostat up a couple of degrees. Then I thought I'd better check the fridge and chuck out anything that was a bit old.... She's got a tendency to keep stuff opened over-long... So that gave me the need to wash some dishes. Strange. No hot water, even though I let it run a while.
So I went upstairs to look at the boiler. Hm. Low system pressure. I topped it up to 1.5 bar. Still nothing. reset. Ahhhhhhh. I can hear the flue-fan running, click, air pressurs switch proving, click, tickticktickticktick, spark electrode, click, main gasvalve, click.... shutdown! Flashing fault light.... I go get a screwdriver, take the casing off... thinking... open gas test point on the main gas valve inlet, wet soapy finger... no bubbles.
No gas pressure....
Ahhhhh. And there's a basin-full of water too, the plug's out, and the cold tap's been dripping, so there's already a frozen waste pipe somewhere.
CLICK. oh yes. The brain clicks, go look out of the front window. Hm. There's a hole by the gate. Yes, I'd noticed it, assumed it was to do with the new streetlights they're putting in. I go outside to look. Sure enough, there's a gas pipe visible, and a water pipe ohhh and in Margaret's driveway and front-garden next door, about three inches of ice.
And as I stand up, there's a van coming up the street with a gas-company logo. I wave it down, it seems that the morning before, a water main had burst, eventually fountaining through the asphalt, but... at the same time, the ground movement had fractured the gas main, and water had filled it, causing troubles downhill from here.
But, according to them, the gas was back on.
Not at my mother's house, I told them. We're a different department, it's not our job... oh yes. A bit of argument, and one of the neighbours came out to ask how long it would be before she could have heat? given that it was over 24 hours.
I pointed out that my mother was 87, and if her house froze, and pipes burst, how would they feel? Ring your depot!
The end result was that within an hour we had three blue vans, and got it all back working. Nobody'd been told what was going on, and the gas men said "Things have been busy". I pointed out that the street has a high number of elderly, housebound people, and without heat, for a little longer, they could expect hypothermia, some, my mother's neighbour, Margaret, for instance has senile dementia, she wouldn't know to call for help.
All that sorted out, heating re-lit, I decided to go for a walk in the park, lunch at the Lakeside cafe.  This park, I grew up in it, I know its woods and secret places, its history; it was a hunting enclosure, at the time of King William the Conqueror, 1080 ad, and it was old then. In the late 19th century, a councillor, later mayor of the city, put together a consortium to buy the park from the private owners, he very wisely bought up parcels of land all around the estate, and he and his pals became very rich men, all out of creating a new, fashionable suburb, three and a half miles outside of town, around Roundhay Park.

That man whose idea it was to buy the park for the people of the city was alderman John Barran. And here, overlooking the lake, is his memorial, from a grateful populace;
Barran's Fountain.

Back, a couple of million years ago when I was at school, Barran's Fountain was one of the landmarks and waypoints on the cross-country running route. Sometimes, but not predictably so, there'd be a teacher lurking somewhere nearby, with a stop-watch and a clipboard, just to make sure you didn't take a short-cut.
The last half-mile of the route was across open fields toward the school. The head of the P.E. dept would often sit in an upstairs room, with binoculars. If, at any time between rising into view, cresting Hill 60, on the park edge, and arriving at the gym, he deemed you had slowed, weren't putting your all into the run, you'd be pulled aside. All the others would be going into the warm, and a few miscreants would be turned outside again. "Run around the running track, until I tell you to stop". "RUN!" And occasionally he'd forget, and we'd be stumbling and staggering on, an hour after school finished, until some teacher, on his way home would say "what are you boys still running for in the dark?" "Oh no, Mr Warham left half an hour ago, go get changed". And they say schooldays are the best days of your life.

with cheeky Squirrels

and another

A view down over the icy lake

I finished  with a stroll down to the Lakeside Cafe, built atop the victorian boathouse.  (concerts in the park by the likes of The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson paid for the cafe, and other infrastructure to be built)
Not so much a cafe, as a restaurant, I had a very good lunch of braised steak in red wine sauce, with seasonal root vegetables. The food is good, the surroundings a little drab, and the price? Significantly more than a good meal in the pub up the road, but I'd ordered before reading the prices.
What I really missed was my long gone dog, Dill, being in the snowy park made me think of him, how he'd race around in the snow, throwing himself into snow-banks and rolling with ecstatic joy... And how he'd have raced from tree to tree, doing his self-appointed job of policing squirrels. And how we'd have a snowball fight. Me throwing, and Dill seeking to catch and destroy them before they hit the ground.
Ha. Crazy things, dogs.
Posted by Picasa

Oh! The Humanity! Latest News From The California Disaster Area!

This is the brother of Scott Adams, (Dilbert's pen-wielding alter ego).
Link to Dilbert/blog

Stop Press: I knew it... If I posted that title, then....

"6.5-Magnitude Quake Reported Near Eureka

A 6.5 magnitude earthquake has struck off the Northern California coast, about 27 miles southwest of Eureka.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake hit around 4:27 Saturday afternoon. Officials say they heard the quake caused some power outtages, but there were no immediate reports of injury or damage.

USGS geophysicist Richard Buckmaster says the quake was felt as far south as Capitola, and as far north as Tiller, Ore.

Friday 8 January 2010

Flying Car, anybody?

These'll be available by 1965.

I wonder, if when we finally get working time-machines, we'll all be lining up to go bludgeon the lying snivelling creeps who produced Modern Mechanix, and other magazines of that ilk.

Thursday 7 January 2010

So, Have You Had Any Snow in Britain Yet?

"Snow blanketed Great Britain on January 7, 2010, as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite passed overhead and captured this image. Snow covers most of England, from the east to the west coast. (The large image shows snow cover over the entire island of Great Britain.) The cities of Manchester, Birmingham, and London form ghostly gray shapes against the white land surface. Immediately east of London, clouds swirl over the island, casting blue-gray shadows toward the north.
Frigid temperatures followed snowfall, leaving roads and sidewalks treacherously icy, according to news reports. As of January 7, overnight temperatures had plunged to -18 degrees Celsius (-0.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in isolated spots, with more widespread temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit). The heavy snowfall downed power lines, leaving several thousand homes in southern England without electricity."

Thank you, NASA, if you look in about the centre of the image, you'll see me shovelling snow.

Solid Potato Salad

I posted this once long ago, now Boing-Boing's reposted it and reminded me of how the Ross Sisters outshine any TV talent show competitors of the present day.
Their one and only remembered performance now is this, from the movie Broadway Rhythm, of 1944. I'd post a picture of them arriving in London to appear in a show called Piccadilly Hayride, but the Getty Picture Library would sue me for licensing fees, pretty rich for an image 56 years old, that's probably not been called on in fifty years. Dixie, the youngest of the sisters, married british singer/comedian Dickie Henderson, I remember watching the Dickie Henderson Show, about a million years ago. Sadly, she died at the age of 34.

Some people like their taters Lyonnaise, some prefer French fries.
I prefer mine with mayonnaise, cole slaw on the side.
Solid potato salad, that's solid salad, Jack,
Solid potato salad, boy, take a plate, fill it up, bring it right back.
Solid potato salad, and let's have no Yak Yak
Solid potato salad, boy, take a plate, fill it up, bring it right back.
The farmer said to the spud, your skin looks slightly pallid,
So I'll dig you later bud, with some solid …potato salad.
Solid potato salad, that's solid salad, Jack,
Solid potato salad, boy, take a plate, fill it up, bring it right back.
Take a plate, fill it up, bring it right back.
Take a plate, fill it up, bring it right back.
Take a plate, fill it up, bring it right back.
Solid potato ….salad, it'll be so fine that you better latch on,
Solid potato ….salad, whatever it takes get a plate before it's all gone.
The farmer said to the spud, your skin looks slightly pallid,
So I'll dig you later bud, with some solid …potato salad.
Solid potato salad, that's solid salad, Jack,
Solid potato salad, boy, take a plate… fill it up…
Take a plate, fill it up, and bring it right back.

Flying Cars

Dr Moller in 1967... Notice the altitude, and the somewhat iffy attitude control.
Moller Aircars, to be precise, I've been following their story, on and off, since the first glossy magazine articles of the seventies promised imminent production of flying cars at road-car prices.

1989, this one flew a little better, looked great, a flying saucer for the masses.

They tried to sell the prototype on ebay, in 2008, but nobody came remotely near the 3.5 million reserve price.

Ah! At last, the real thing.... or is it?
This one's supposed to fly even if two engines fail. Basic mechanics and seat of the pants physics suggest that that's somewhat unlikely, given that the centre of thrust is nowhere near the centre of gravity. Maybe diagonally opposite engines would be survivable. In dead calm. Ten feet up, Above something very forgiving, like a big haystack. Um, a big fireproof haystack.

"Please note, the Moller Skycar is currently only at the "concept" stage".
What's not said here is that the longest it's ever flown for is sixty seconds. That it's never  flown free, it's always attached to a crane. Sometimes, according to eye-witnesses, the crane performs the take-off, not the engines. Um. It flies without anyone in the cockpit. I wonder why?
Moller's publicity shots have often shown a smilling Dr Moller at the controls. However, there seems to be no evidence that this thing can fly with a human, untethered.
So, 45 years after he started, some 100 million dollars poured into the development, (some sources suggest it is closer to 200 million), we have a very pretty thing that flies for 45 seconds, travels ten yards, and lands badly.
In 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Moller for civil fraud (Securities And Exchange Commission v. Moller International, Inc., and Paul S. Moller, Defendants) in connection with the sale of unregistered stock, and for making unsubstantiated claims about the performance of the Skycar. Moller settled this lawsuit by agreeing to a permanent injunction and paying $50,000. In the words of the SEC complaint, "As of late 2002, MI's approximately 40 years' [sic] of development has resulted in a prototype Skycar capable of hovering about fifteen feet above the ground."

"Moller International has an accumulated deficits of $45,525,462 and a working capital deficit of $11,376,885 as of September 30, 2009."

Doctor Moller filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in may 2009 , as reported in the Sacramento Business Journal .
Still, it's not all bad. Somehow, whilst pouring a lifetime's work and a mountain of money into a futuristic machine that has NEVER demonstrated the abilities claimed for it, Dr Moller declares his private, not corporate, assets to be over 46 million dollars.
There do appear to be some spin-off technologies,  they say their muffler/spark arrestors are sought after worldwide, that their wankel rotary developments are world beating... Hm. Maybe I'd better tip out my piggy bank and invest.

Oh, apparently those supergood wankel Rotary engines, air-cooled for weight control, don't actually cool very well... so they can't run for very long.

It seems to me that most people trying to develop a new technology work first on the technical aspects, build it out of old bedframes and lego, until they've got an ugly, but demonstrably workable prototype. Whereas it sems Moller works from the other end. Draw a Jetsons-like flying car, tell people it will travel 500 miles at 350 miles per hour, rescue people from burning buildings, commute more easily than by car, sell them in advance, promising FAA certification very soon, and, year by year, fail to deliver one single shred of evidence that your (extremely noisy, and therefore certain to be banned in any residential setting)  device will do any of the things you claim. In the YouTube video, it's shown taking off, hovering, and landing (in a rather unconvincing, unlevel, thump), all whilst tethered to a safety crane.
I've been unable to locate anything to suggest this lovely glossy thing can actually take off and transition into stable forward flight at 60, 350, 500, or any miles per hour at all.
Animations on Moller's website? Ha.

If you go to Moller's own website, there's  only happiness, sweetness  and light.
in "What people are saying" it's all upbeat. No mention of the chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Tiger's mistresses.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

A Blast From the Past- Woodfired Raku, 1989

Dad's Gonna Kill Me

Out in the desert there’s a soldier lying dead
Vultures pecking the eyes out of his head
Another day that could have been me there instead
Nobody loves me here
Nobody loves me here

Dad’s Gonna Kill Me
Dad’s Gonna Kill Me

You hit the booby trap and you’re in pieces
With every bullet your risk increases
Old Ali Baba, he’s a different species
Nobody wants me here
Nobody needs me here

Dad’s Gonna Kill Me
Dad’s Gonna Kill Me

I’m dead meat in my HumV Frankenstein
I hit the road block, don't know howI never hit that mine
The dice rolled and I got lucky this time

Dad’s Gonna Kill Me
Dad’s Gonna Kill Me

I’ve got a wife, a kid, another on the way
I might get home if I can live through today
Before I came out here I never used to pray
Nobody loves me here
Nobody wants me here

Dad’s Gonna Kill Me

Dad’s in a bad mood, Dad’s got the blues
It’s someone else’s mess that I didn’t choose
At least we’re winning on the Fox Evening News
Nobody loves me here
Nobody loves me here

Dad’s Gonna Kill Me
Dad’s Gonna Kill Me

Dawn Patrol went out and didn’t come back
Hug the wire and pray like I told you, Mac
Or they’ll be shovelling bits of you into a sack

Dad’s Gonna Kill Me.
Dad’s Gonna Kill Me

And who’s that stranger walking in my dreams
And whose that stranger cast a shadow ‘cross my heart
And who’s that stranger, I dare speak his name
Must be old Death a-walking
Must be old Death a-walking

Dad’s Gonna Kill Me
Dad’s Gonna Kill Me

Another angel got his wings this week
Charbroiled with his own Willie Pete
Nobody’s dying if you speak double-speak

Dad’s Gonna Kill Me
Dad’s Gonna Kill Me

7 muzzle monkeys standing in a row
Standing waiting for The Sandbox to blow
Sitting targets in the wild west show

Nobody loves me here

Dad’s Gonna Kill Me

Oh, Let Me Take My Chances on the Wall of Death

Let me ride on the Wall Of Death one more time
Let me ride on the Wall Of Death one more time
You can waste your time on the other rides
This is the nearest to being alive
Oh let me take my chances on the Wall Of Death

You can go with the crazy people in the Crooked House
You can fly away on the Rocket or spin in the Mouse
The Tunnel Of Love might amuse you
Noah's Ark might confuse you
But let me take my chances on the Wall Of Death

On the Wall Of Death all the world is far from me
On the Wall Of Death it's the nearest to being free

Well you're going nowhere when you ride on the carousel
And maybe you're strong but what's the good of ringing a bell
The switchback will make you crazy. Beware of the bearded lady
Oh let me take my chances on the Wall Of Death

Let me ride on the Wall Of Death one more time
Oh let me ride on the Wall Of Death one more time
You can waste your time on the other rides
This is the nearest to being alive
Oh let me take my chances on the Wall Of Death
Let me take my chances on the Wall Of Death
Oh let me take my chances on the Wall Of Death

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Down into the Dungeon...

Where I have a little store. The company chairman thinks this is a works-related store. Well, I do occasionally store a few tools or materials in here for work, but really its my stuff, that I've got no room for at home at the moment. Roll on the lottery win.

Oh. and images in this post are all over the place. It's because I did it using Picasa, and Blogger-in-draft, and I can't figure out how to edit the html to get them to do what i want them to do.

The basement...
And the store

I just accumulate stuff. It's not my fault. There's a v8 engine, a motorbike trailer, must get that ebayed.... Tools Tools Tools A Landrover hardtop and rear door, A landrover SWB roof-rack...

Pottery materials, oxides.

a roll of 1350 degree celsius rated fiberfrax

Kiln furniture

Cane Handles, the circuit board was part of a kiln vent control system a geek friend made for me.

Ceramics Review back issues and a Lewis Chess Set cast in resin and aged by mine own fair hands.

 Ah- look! A test piece for the house-portraiture in 2/3 scale, a landscape bowl with an island in the middle, a bisqued (in 1989) teapot...

there's some other stuff there, my ancient books and newspapers.

 This is "Acta Eruditorum", of February1684, the equivalent in its day, of Scientific American.
The book is in Latin, in those days the universal language of the learned, though the second paragraph is in Swedish.
I have about three or maybe four bound editions from the 1680s.
Its a long story. I saved these and some other books and papers from destruction.