Archive for the ‘uncategorised’ category

Sabre unsheathing leaves BBC Science lost for swords

You might have read in the news that a new piece of technology, dubbed Sabre, is about to receive a cool £60m in government funding, with the hope of creating a working prototype…well, thing. It’s, er, an atmospherey-spacey-flying thing, which can take people from the Earth into orbit, and takes off like a plane, but then can be more like a spaceship. It can get to Australia in five hours! It’s got all air-cooling compression and stuff. Er. If only there were a succinct way to describe this. Help us, BBC!

Sabre is a jet-cum-rocket.

I’m sorry, what?!

Sabre is a jet-cum-rocket.

A hypersonic, hydrogen-burning jet-cum-rocket? Well, if it doesn’t enable sub-orbital high-speed travel, it should at least allow for intercontinental fertility treatment.

Written by Tom and Statto

July 16, 2013 at 17:16

Posted in uncategorised

Mixed-fruit metaphors on rails

The government has today announced a £9bn programme of investment in Britain’s railways, and Bob Crow, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, is of course available to reporters looking to rent a cocked-off counter-quote to fulfil their remit for balance. He told the BBC:

What we need is investment in rail today not yet another political promise of jam tomorrow.

If we may provide some rhetorical advice, Bob: don’t give a metaphor as a hypothetical alternative to a literal thing. Unless, of course, Mr Crow was privy to a discussion in the cross-departmental transport–confiture sub-committee in which they argued over whether to invest in improved rail services or the deferred provision of fruit preserves. This counters official government policy, which is interested in preserving not fruit, but jams made of traffic all over Britain’s creaking transport infrastructure. Zing.

Written by Tom and Statto

July 16, 2012 at 12:35

Posted in uncategorised

Crackers crackers exploding jokes

’Tis the season to deconstruct jollity and so, filled with Christmas spirits, may we present our selection of post-modern cracker jokes. Merry Winterlight from Headline Superheroes!

What did the cold penguin say to the other cold penguin?

What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck?
A dead duck and no presents.

Why isn’t this joke funny?
Because this is the punchline.

What is longer than a snake and shorter than a mouse?
Fatal error, invalid integer operation.

Why is Santa good at chess?
Because pawn king rook knight. Bishop.

What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?

What’s black and white and red all over?
A hypercube.

What did Mr and Mrs Christmas call their first child?

What did the Daily Mail reader give her family for Christmas?
Unwelcome opinions.

What did Kim Jong-il give Colonel Gaddafi for Christmas?
Nothing. He was a Communist.

What did the man find in his Christmas cracker?
This joke.

What do you get if you eat all the Christmas decorations?

How do they celebrate the birth of Christ at Hogwart’s?
They don’t. He’s fictional.

Written by Statto and Tom

December 25, 2011 at 20:11

Posted in uncategorised

Cherry peaking

The Beeb have produced a delightful graphic showing the peaks and troughs in website visits, a proxy for newsiness, over the last twelve months:

BBC News 2011 timeline

The photos ruin an otherwise highly scientific analysis. Why does Bin Laden’s picture appear a month after he died? Why is the UK budget being delivered by a Japanese dude in a respirator? Why does Amy Winehouse get half of June for pre-mourning even though she didn’t die until 23rd July? Does the large number of visitors to the BBC News site on the day of the riots itself constitute a riot?

Written by Statto and Tom

December 19, 2011 at 17:38

Posted in uncategorised

Boring borders dispute bordering on insanity

The stand-off between former UK border agent Brodie ‘No Rogue Officer’ Clark and Home Secretary Theresa ‘Dave’s Full Confidence’ May has dragged on for weeks over whether or not the relaxing of draconian border controls was deliberate, permitted, extended, legal, chocolate-flavoured, and/or inspired by health and safety concerns. Now, the two combatants have apparently become locked in a battle of meta-surprise, with May’s opening volley of shock being met with a stern riposte from Clark who, according to the Beeb, was ‘surprised May unaware’.

It seems that Clark said that May said that he knew, but he didn’t know that she said that, so when she did say that about him, he was rather shocked. However, she wasn’t expecting that, she said, but Clark fully expected her not to expect to be surprised. Meanwhile, beneath cover of this interminable dullness, between zero and twenty million Muslims have entered the UK unfrisked, and up to 175,000 terrorisms have occurred.

Written by Tom and Statto

November 16, 2011 at 14:02

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Nutt ecstatic

News that ecstasy doesn’t appear to cause long-term brain damage has been greeted with open arms and dilated pupils by pro-drugs campaigners, and closed minds by politicians and readers of tabloid newspapers. It’s also left Professor David Nutt, whom you may remember from the Nutt sack affair in which the government fired him as an independent science advisor for giving independent science advice, nonplussed. Nutt told the Guardian:

‘I always assumed that, when properly designed studies were carried out, we would find ecstasy does not cause brain damage,’ said Professor David Nutt.

Good to see that Nutt’s advice is now so independent that it’s not even encumbered by the scientific method.

The dangers of relying on anecdotal evidence are made clear by commenter db1489, who explains:

Ok so anecdotal evidence means nothing but…I took ecstacy many hundreds of times during the nineties and I have never been sharper mentally. My memory is fine and i’ve never been sharper mentally.

Commenter db1489 making clear the dangers of relying on anecdotal evidence, there.

Written by Statto and Tom

February 21, 2011 at 17:29

Posted in uncategorised

No silk purse

An Australian journalist makes a right pig’s ear of fact-checking:

(via HeathC)

Written by Statto

February 7, 2011 at 21:54

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Privet-isation plan obscures wood with trees

How many woods would a deficit-cutter cut if a deficit-cutter had a chainsaw, an ideological obsession, some other unpopular cuts to bury, and very little by way of long-term planning skills? The latest UK coalition plan to be tabled is the selling off of England’s forests to prune back big government, and tackle the root of the national deficit.

The sell-off is promised to net us a cool, one-time windfall of £250 million from timber companies, equivalent to around a fiver per taxpayer, or 1/700th of the annual budget deficit. However, other planned leases are estimated by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to actually cost the government more than it will save, given the cost of fees and lost timber revenue.

The government promise to ensure our children can use the refashioned public spaces, comprising whirly-saw logging play areas and landfill sites full of AIDS, and that the beauty of these locations will not be impacted. So, given that you won’t be allowed to log it all and build a toxic waste factory or a kitten slaughterhouse, what’s the incentive to buy? This is setting brains awhirring over at Conspiracy Central, where rumours abound that the forest sell-off proposal is basically a smokescreen as large as if they’d just set fire to all the leafy bastards.

Some 89% of the public are preoccupied with saving Britain’s forests from privatisation, while 17% think that money doesn’t grow on trees, and the remaining 3% don’t know where money comes from, but like the smell of it. This gives the Tories a 9% public opinion surplus, which they can spend building hotels on their properties in Mayfair. And, more importantly, leaves 109% of people preoccupied with opposing a hilariously supervillainous plan to sell all the trees to kitten-hating, cloak-wearing, evil-doing corporate loggers, cement companies and private sector prison developers, and only three confused medical statisticians to take the coalition to task over its evidence-free battle to reform the NHS.

Who predicts an eventual avant-face, and the proud claim that the coalition are listening to the people with whom they’re all in it together*? Oh.

* Sick people not included.

Written by Tom and Statto

February 6, 2011 at 20:35

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Badly Buried Conservatism

Andy Coulson has personally headhunted Craig Oliver, a top BBC News exec and former editor of the six and ten o’clock newses, to take over as head of government communications after Coulson was hounded from office due to his having held the reins during the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

We assume that the last five years of BBC editorial independence were surely pristine, since Coulson must have selected Oliver due to his stunning broadcast news credentials, and was merely pleasantly surprised to discover at interview that he was a great big Tory. It seems very unlikely that this would have occurred the other way around.

Written by Statto and Tom

February 4, 2011 at 22:18

Posted in uncategorised


The ‘ObamaCare’ healthcare reforms which pundits are keen to brand as Barack Obama’s flagship policy have hit upon yet another difficulty, being ruled ‘unconstitutional’ by federal judges. The package is deemed unconstitutional because it would force people to buy health insurance or face a penalty—presumably making taxation ‘unconstitutional’ too.

In spite of its ailing healthcare system, America is still firmly the leader of the free world thanks to its exemplary independent judiciary. According to the Telegraph,

Each judge who has ruled on the issue has so far followed the party line of the president that appointed him, and when the case is heard in the Supreme Court it too is also likely to divide along ideological lines.

Besides which, being slaves to the constitution is ludicrous anyway: the Founding Fathers, smart though it’s obligatory to acknowledge they were, couldn’t possibly have foreshadowed a black guy presiding over the most expensive healthcare system in the World. But then, perhaps a black guy presiding over the most expensive healthcare system in the world couldn’t possibly have foreshadowed the Founding Fathers fighting his attempts to improve it from beyond the grave.

Written by Statto

February 1, 2011 at 10:55

Posted in uncategorised