Posts Tagged ‘steampunk

23
Oct
09

Dreaming of Androids not Sheep

Dear reader, as I was fiddling with my cantankerous wheelie bin this morning I was struck with thoughts of deceit and obfuscation. Twas only the other day that I was discussing the very matter with Dr. Brunel. He is of the opinion that his car is fully automatic. Nay, I cannot agree with this confused opinion. Surely he has his hands to the tiller? A misunderstanding of the term automatic no doubt. I shall set him right in his ways never fear. Though he is a proud one, he is also a confused banana.

Of course we have all been misled a propos the level of robotic technology that we should currently be enjoying. I am surprised that Gordon Brown has not set targets on Robotic Technology.  Science and Innovation Minister,  Professor William Heath Robinson said: “What’s important about Androidhorizons is that we’re inviting anyone and everyone to get involved in the discussions, not only the scientists. We want discussions about science to involve the whole community. Will we all be using Ray-Guns at 80? Or sitting in self-driving cars? Will robots be serving us breakfast? Will our fridges be talking to our shopping trolleys? Will history be a thing of the past?”

The level of robotic technology is frankly a little shabby. Look at this pathetic excuse for an automaton.

The dream of the future was much more along the lines of Robby the Robot. Yes, Jeeves reimagined as a whirring butler, fitted out with replication units, and a baffling internal logic system. The dressmaking skills seemed a little effeminate – but there you go. A dream of sliding doors and hoverboots seemed only around the corner. I still clearly remember our old year 6 teacher, Mrs. Bradbury preparing us for the Age of Leisure. Our every need and whim would be catered for. The main purpose of education then would be to intelligently fill our extensive free time. Still waiting. While I’m still waiting I have 101 chores to do, which I am sure could be fulfilled by Robby. So much for a robotic dystopia, with armies of domestic assistants rising up to overthrow their masters. The only thing the ones we’ve would probably run out of batteries half way through booting up. Ho hum. So much for the G-1-RL Portable Leisure, Exercise and Adventure, Self-Utilizing Responsive Escort (P.L.E.A.S.U.R.E.) robot.

Stuck in an ironing loop again.

Stuck in an ironing loop again.

Advertisements
22
Oct
09

Victorian Steampunk

     I probably should reveal a few things that have hitherto, remained latent. I do have a penchant for the days of yore. Not particularly for sentimental reasons; although inevitably there is a modicum of that. It seems perhaps inevitable that an island such as Old Blighty, not emasculated by her (wink) loss of Empire should have a yearning for the former glory.

Mappa Tuesday

Mappa Tuesday

     However, the zeitgeist of the day is cheap and cheerless – the land of the miserable shopper. Our £1 lands have replaced our Woolworths. Yes cheap tat and proud of it. Brunel would be spinning in his grave.

     But let me take you back to a land that served a purpose with style. You just have to think of the Crossness pumping station.

     Yes indeed, the Victorians even ensured that their turds* travelled in style, albeit to end up washing up on the sandy shores of bathers at Southend-on-Sea. It is true, however, that their wives and children fared well they could not bear for any of their fine erections to be looked down up.

it's a shitehouse

it's a shitehouse

     Wot ho! It was indeed, as old Charlie would say the best of time & the worst of times. In fact it had a hint of the Curate’s Egg about it, albeit encased in a Faberge suit. It was a time when a gentleman would toss his cape into a geographically inconvenient Dr. Foster, and hang the bill the Chinese laundry man would threaten him with. Exactly why the Chinese crossed half the world to stir steaming tubs of shirts, well, that’s another story….

     It was a time when a gentleman would dress for dinner, and after he had retired to the Smoking Room, (as opposed to sitting on the back porch and hoping an Easterly didn’t send wafts of aromatic Arabian tobacco back into the sitting room for fear of the asthmatic cat having another attack,) and gazing out at the gas lit pea-souper. Conversation would fall on affairs of state, the Empire and, of course the latest invention that one was tinkering with. Yes, for dandyness, etiquette and style aside, it was at least a time when one could have a stab at inventing a unique contraption with out possessing several degrees in advanced Squibullery. A time of crystal phials and shining brass. A time of sparks, whirring engines, and – by God – proper noises. A gentleman could travel from King’s Cross to Edinburgh in a proper mode of transport, a Steam-powered train. The sort of vehicle, that one could well imagine, could at any point leave the tracks and end up Le Voyage dans la lune.

     The Victorian Age was the Age of Invention. The zeitgeist of boundless optimism and achievement, where anything is possible. Of course, you had to be rich enough to benefit from it, but then I’m sure the Great Pyramid wasn’t that impressive if you spent all day shoving tons of granite up a slope all day. As the bard has it, “it’s the rich wot gets the pleasure, and the poor wot gets the pain.”

     Please, give me a little indulgence fair reader of a time when at least you knew where you stood, even if that meant with both feet in raw sewage, dying of typhus. Look at use now; gone is the age of Oak, of Iron, the MFI age is our day. Can you imagine the Swedish selling wood to us, for cripes sake.

     Let me end today’s entry with a few places to visit to recapture that certain style.

Hey Ho. It’s time I should be winding my collection of crystal chronometers.

17
Aug
09

The march of time

     I was enjoying the traditional delights of an English summertime, the other day. I believe “topping up the tan” is the parlance. After I had felt that I had received my optimum melanin level, I bade Mr & Mrs Loompah a fond farewell & vacated the Oranj-o-Tinge, that being the name of my local U.V. emporium. With a slight spring in my step, veins pumping with vitamins of the D variety, my eardrums were assaulted with the tuneless tinkling associated with one of the village’s Crème glacée vendors. The clunky Oranges and Lemons revealed the wagon to belong to Mr. Softee. Had the tones of Yankee Doodle Dandy filled my pinna, it would have signalled his Nemesis, Mr. Whippy. For many a year now, the interlocutors have been circling the square in their Pied-Piperesque sirening of the youth of the parish.

     If you have any other tunes of the cream of ice wagon, that fill your far flung end of the empire, or indeed, could suggest some appropriate humorous tunes please feel free to let me know.
     This moment, with the smell of vanilla mingling with the odour of freshly cut grass, I had a brief Proustesque moment, as I wondered how these tunes had evolved over the years. On the one hand Oranges & Lemons suggests the citrus delights of the summer; whilst Yankee Doodle Dandy reminds me of macaroni cheese. However, this brief reverie was quickly curtailed as my left plate of meat sank into a freshly laid conclusion of a local canine’s digestive tract. Curse Mr. Darbyshire and his uncouth hound – I shall see him on the Heath at some dawn in the not too distant future.

     Still with thoughts of evolution foremost in my mind, I began to muse upon the career of Mr.C.Darwin. Of course, he had an eccentric ancestor’s blood coursing through his Victorian veins. I am, of course, referring to his erstwhile grandfather Erasmus. A curious fish was Mr. Darwin senior, a scientific gentleman, who had the peculiar habit of composing his theories in verse!

“ The Giant-power from earth’s remotest caves

Lifts with strong arm her dark reluctant waves;

Each cavern’d rock and hidden den explores,

Drags her dark coals, and digs her shining ores.

Next, in close cells of ribbed oak confined,

Gale after gale, he crowds the struggling wind:

The imprison’d storms through brazen nostrils roar,

Fan the white flame, and fuse the sparkling ore.

Here high in air the rising stream he pours

To clay-built cisterns, or to lead-lined towers;

Fresh through a thousand pipes the wave distils,

And thirsty cities drink the exuberant rills.

There the vast mill-stone with inebriate whirl

On trembling floors his forceful fingers twirl,

Whose flinty teeth the golden harvests grind,

Feast without blood! and nourish human-kind.”

     Imagine, our very own Stephen Hawking composing his latest musings, in the manner of the Bard.    

One is not amused

One is not amused

The first meeting between an Orangutang and a Queen of the Empire developed as follows. On meeting Queen Victoria in 1842, Jenny the Orangutang (for that was her name) was reported in the Times of London to have described the monarch in questions as. “frightfully, painfully and disagreeably human.” The very next morning, the Zoo-keeper, Mr. J. Morris, found Jenny’s cage with the bars bent asunder; the cage bare apart from a slightly bruised banana, and a solitary bowler hat. Several astute commentators were later to make a connection between this mystery and the subsequent murders of Mademoiselle L’espanaye and her daughter in the Rue Morgue, Paris, later that year. On this line, I read with some interest, recently, the it is thought that Neanderthal man are now thought to be gingers – and they’re extinct.

The perils of foreign journalism

The perils of foreign journalism

     With this grotesque image, fresh in my mind, I began to think about, down which stream the flow of evolution would take us next. Now that many of us, across the Empire are living in metropolises, overwhelming conurbations of the modern age, bringing with them fear, alienation & schizophrenia. A lump at the rear of the cranium, still yearns for the humble communities of village life (bar Mr. P. McGooghan, obviously.) Now, many of us, with the steam-powered Babbage Engine, are free to create our virtual villages with VisageTome, MyVacuum and the like, of a much more Amish-size. It could, and has been argued, that many of the friends that we invite, into our hermetic villages, are not really friends at all. So, it has always been the case in the pastoral village. Yet, this is a more modern village, with no strict hierarchy and no real laws. How so, I hear you cry, does one gain kudos in such an environment free from the curtailments of property and money. At last, a vehicle for social experimentation is at out fingertips. Of course, many, indeed most merely see it as a forum to express to out community some drab commentary about their squalid little lives. To say that you are doing some paperwork (read Status not Status Quo,) is the pastoral equivalent of saying “Oi am watchin’ moi sheep fer a little bit, todoy.” Some will actually vote on such banalities. This is akin to raising your pitchfork in the village square. This non-verbal communication is even more pitiful. Reader, there is a very real opportunity, to experiment with how you can seize influence in your virtual communities, bereft of heritage and upbringing. I despair.

On a more uplifting note; of late, there is growing evidence that people are prepared to forgo the lures of property and wealth for the personal rewards of status and reputation, in providing their toil for free in such ventures as Wikipedia, Linux Fedora and Digg, to name but a few. Such individuals are prepared for the common “good.” Although, we always have to bear in mind one critique of Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man, that such philosophy can lead to the dictatorship of the majority, it is a promising sign of the future of online collaborations.

I was still pondering, the future path of evolution, when I looked down upon my fork. Dear reader, one of the prongs was slightly askew. We still await the principles of evolution to be applied to inanimate objects. What I really need is a Darwin box, in which we can place our imperfect objects, let them incubate for a week, select the “best fit” baby object, then pop it into a time dilator, to save all the pesky hanging around. This theory will need to be developed, but for now, my hedge needs trimming.

 

Next Week: The New Economic Theory of Noel Edmonds.

09
Jul
09

Scissors Wraps Paper, & Paper Raps Metal

     Coins are peculiar metallurgical items, and not just from a Marxist perspective. Take the pesky baby of the family, the One Pence Piece. Once upon a time a 1p was worth a trip to the cinema. In my youth you could by a few sweets and penny chews. Nowadays our cupric friend would purchase zilch. In fact, only 1/5 of all transactions actually need a 1p.

uk_coins2

Thus, it is you are actually going out of your way to pass on the blighters. By the same token (no pun intended) it is only an obligatory coin for the haberdasher to return to the customers itchy plam when the cost of an item ends with 9p or 7p. Again the 20% rule comes into play. The only reason you use the pennies most of the time is to get rid of the little swines. It’s pretty much akin to having an E.U. penny mountain in your sideboard. I am misleading you of course, dear reader. no-sale

One of the reasons where the “99p” appendum to the price (apart from the psychological advantage of a whole 1p mark-down), was this: back in the day of Gestetner Steam-Driven cash register, if the Price were rounded to the nearest pound then the operator could pocket the cash, for he wouldn’t have need to open the till: no change. However, 99p means that he has to open the till and swap coins in front of the customer. So I say, Pluto the penny, banish the brass. This is one little fella we don’t need. Compare the ways of the prehistoric penny to our friend the postage stamp. Many a sleight has be made of the Queen-emblazoned sticker. It seems a tad unfair. After all, if you were to send you Aunt Gertrude a Happy Divorce card, a mere 30p seems a most economical way of posting, say from London to Edinburgh. In fact at 0.07p a mile this is the delivery method of choice. Unlike the old stick in the mud coin, the stamp will change its value. Adapt & Survive. That’s what I say. You’ll never see a 2p think it’ll be better of as a threepenny bit. So, three cheers for stamps. Britain at it’s Best.

Did Dorian Gray have glue on one side of his face?

Did Dorian Gray have glue on one side of his face?

08
Jul
09

Through A Glass Darkly

     I recall reading  about the life of Charles VI of France in I Commentarii  (by Enea Silvio Piccolomini). Although VI on the roman numeral scale, he was better known as Mad Charles by his adoring fans. Although it could have been worse. Ethelred’s The Unready moniker can’t have been much of an ego boost.
    On the subject of Roman Numerals  – which we weren’t – I recall my associate Blenkinsopp relating the following story. Apparently he had posted his Aunt Agatha a brass banana-peeler to her summer residence in Georgia (part of the American colonies) when a week later the following encounter occurred. Following a ringing of the doorbell, he promptly opened the aforementioned portal to have the fortune to meet that man of letters, Mr. Witherspoon, the friendly neighbourhood postman. Unfortunately, Witherspoon also had a suspiciously banana-shaped package hard at heel. Mr. Witherspoon explained that according to the note attached to the package, the labour-saving device could not be accepted over the border due to the fact that the address was written using Arabic Numerals (presumably to spot any post from the middle east) Obviously, among the luxuries exported was not an education system.

Mafia Accountancy

Mafia Accountancy

     As I was saying, Charles VI apparently, was a bit of a square egg. He sometimes didn’t recognise his family and would run around the corridors of his palace howling like a wolf. His crown size was 7¼ incidentally.
     More bizarrely, he became convinced that he was made of glass and needed to be held together with bits of wood, and iron rods  to stop him from shattering.[ear trumpet material here… http://www.learningcurve.gov.uk/podcasts/ It must have been a handy skill, if you’d dropped your keys, assuming of course he believed it was transparent glass. Perhaps it was a fetching burgundy Ghiaccio as favoured by the venitians. I don’t expect you’d see him hogging the central spot affront the hearth. Pretty handy though for lightning a fire, using the magnifying power if his thumb. I suppose he was really thinking of the fragility downside. These days he’d probably be seen running down the street, chase by a crowd of children, dressed in his bubblewrap suit.

one i prepared earlier

one i prepared earlier

     In 1561 account reported a sufferer “who had to relieve himself standing up, fearing that if he sat down his buttocks would shatter… The man concerned was a glass-maker from the Parisian suburb of Saint Germain, who constantly applied a small cushion to his buttocks, even when standing. He was cured of this obsession by a severe thrashing from the doctor, who told him that his pain emanated from buttocks of flesh.”http://wapedia.mobi/en/The_Glass_Delusion

     Further Reading “Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Papa Pio II), I Commentarii, ed. L. Totaro, Milano, 1984, I, p. 1056”.

Slightly Foxed

Slightly Foxed

06
Jul
09

British Success Uncovered

     As we approach the anniversary of Mr. Armstrong & Mr. Aldrin’s well known landing on the Moon. Let me take the gentle reader on a voyage fantastique of which the history books keep a mysterious silence.

     For I can reveal, that the first man to walk on the surface of the Moon was none other than Britain’s very own Captain George Formby. After a glittering career in the military, bringing off such coups as infiltrating a Nazi Spy ring, and delivering a good old knuckle sandwhich to Mr. Hitler (in his very own bunker)- not to mention serving as a crack RAF fighter pilot.serving  obviously George was the man for the job. He was dubious as to whether he could pull off a trip to the lunar surface. He soon changed his mind.

gf2

     After months of  training at the hitherto secret training academy in Skegness, Formby emerged with his sidekicks of Captains Sidney James and Hattie Jacques. At last they were ready to go boldy where no man had been before.

     Eventually, in October 1957  a window of opportunity presented itself, and the trio clambered into the invention of the now infamous Dr. Brunel. The Space-Balloon secretly ascended into the atmosphere above the salty air of Skegness.

Dr. Brunel's designs

Dr. Brunel's designs

     The journey was fraught with danger, accounts of which are still too vague and unsettling to recount here. Albeit to say that after a fortnights flight they eventually descended to the mysterious lunar territory. Almost immediately they were met by the curious inhabitants of our sole satellite. After a series of unlikely adventures the Soup Dragon was slaughtered, and the Clangers were a free people.

The Revolution Begins

The Revolution Begins

     Out intrepid trio stayed for ginger beer and cheese sandwhiches, but had to be back on Earth to report their findings.

     As if this were not enough, Sir George Formby went on to further success in other fields of human endeavour. Of course, his winning the Grand National and the Isle of Man T.T. have been well documented in the popular press. In his 60’s he was elected Member of Parliament for Bristol East, whereupon he famously pushed through the Octopus Protection Bill. Upon retiring to spend more time actively in politics, he became an inventor. Younger readers will probably be more familiar with the George Formby Grill.

George%20Formby%20grill

06
Jul
09

Double Trouble

Getting to know you
Getting to know you

     Dear reader, let me relate to you a headline that I encountered in the Village Gazette the other day. I was puzzled by the headline, which read “Midget Twins killed by Fake Ladies of the Night

     It just goes to back up those stories you are always hearing about twins separated at birth ending up in the same professions, having the same type, of dog, and in several cases being married to the same woman. I suppose some of it makes sense, you must be difficult to resist those two for one offers for example. However, if you are, for example, lacking in the height department, the choice of a career in Professional Wrestling (Mexican department) does seem particularly ill-thought through. Just the thought of a huge 220lb Mexican version of Giant Haystacks descending at 9.8ms-2 of a 20ft pair of ladders, only to have his descent hindered by my miniscule bonce would certainly give me second thoughts at the interview. Perhaps they played as a team; sort of two halfs for your pint philosophy. Oh dear, that makes them sound like some 1930’s slapstick comedy. Visions of braces being pulled from behind, a-running through open legs, and much a-slapping of wobbly cheeks seems to spring to mind.
     I wonder if they ever won a match? Did they get half of the belt each?
It is a shame they a no longer with us. Still to be, albeit accidently, killed by a prostitute you would at least want them to have the dignity of being real ladies-of-the-night. My of my, the second oldest profession is getting more sloppy these days. Where they happy to carry out the pleasuring act, but refused to take the monies after said transaction? Who knows, certainly not I, gentle reader. Marxist escorts spreading their tentacles across the Mexican map. Soon, surely, America will follow. I can just see aero planes packed full of mini-skirted, basqued, stocking and beheld Marxist nocturnal escorts, stepping out of airports all over the civilized world (apart from Iceland, obviously.) What do they really want? Perhaps they are a religious sect intent on terminating all twins, seeing them as an abhorration? Evil plots surround us everywhere. It is clear that we must all send a letter to Mr. Brown immediately demanding that he set strict quotas limiting the numbers of ladies entering our country. Perhaps even 24-hour security for twins everywhere. Is nothing sacred anymore. Incidentally, did you know Tom Thumb’s hat size was 3¾, cheap on material, but a bit fiddly steaming the brim.




Don’t you know what day it is?

November 2017
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Blog Stats

  • 2,025 hits

Archives