Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Flesh Gordon - NSFW, Spoilers, WTF


There, now that song will be in your head for hours. If you don’t know it, then you’ve never seen the epic glory that is Flash Gordon. He’s the saviour of the universe:

You too can forever emblazon your camp science fiction opera on the minds of everyone with the magical music of Queen. Just ask Ben Elton! You can read all about it after the click.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Wenlock and Mandeville - Olympic Mascot Fallout

Over the course of history, there have been some truly iconic duos: Romeo & Juliet, Laurel & Hardy, Bert & Ernie, Wenlock & Mandeville, and so many others. Wait, what’s that you say? You don’t know who they are? Your ignorance disgusts me. Oh, you meant Wenlock & Mandeville? Never mind then. They’re the Olympic mascots for 2012, and there's no reason you should know who they are.

Remember? These guys? No? Anyone?

No, you haven’t seen them around. Nobody has seen them around. See those little letters on their foreheads? That’s how you tell them apart. W for Wenlock, M for Mandeville. Wenlock is the angry-looking orange thing and Mandeville is the sad blue one.

More after the click!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Paralympic Posters

London is starting to buzz about the Olympics. Well, it has been for a while, but now the buzzing is really loud. I know some folks who have tickets, sure. But now it turns out I also know a few people who are already working for them in some capacity, whether volunteering as crowd control, staffing and catering for their parties and events, helping to build and finish the stadiums, planning the opening ceremony... meanwhile I still don’t have a job… no, no, it’s fine, I just need a moment.

None of them will tell me a damn thing about the opening cermony, obviously. They say they don’t even know, but that’s exactly what they’d say if they did even know!

Yep, money is going to shower down on this city like gold from a rainbow. Then we’re back to being screwed – except no, because that’s when we get my favourite part of the Olympics. The PARALYMPICS!

Hopefully the least offensive possible combination of shapes and colors

After the click let's find out more!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Toyota Yaris Adverts

Enough long-winded theoretical nonsense about time travel. I have some more adverts to complain about! This time it’s the stupid Toyota Yaris rappers. If you’ve not seen them, then yes – for some reason, there are three separate adverts for the Toyota Yaris that all feature a 30-40 second rap tune. It gets weirder. 

I’ll tell you now I don’t know anything about music, let alone cool music. I know the general history of rap music, from the ‘golden age’ of the 90s to how they added ‘rhythm’ to the blues in a kind of secret underground laboratory sometime during the 20th century. I also know that a ‘gravel pit’ somehow refers to a lady’s… sex bits…? Probably? But apart from that I’m pretty clueless.

I try to avoid getting too krunk these days, but I still love me some bitches

What I do know is adverts. The beats might be phat, they might be spitting lyrics like lightning for all I know, but that doesn’t sell cars. Also, in all three the singer-rapper-people-folk are cartoons. For some reason. Cartoons. It still gets even weirder, after the click!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Time Travel - Part Four

In this, the last part of my time-travel quadrilogy (it turns out), we’ll talk briefly about how to survive time-travel. In Part One we discussed the universe in which we all exist, importantly hinting at how to travel through it. In Part Two, I was very angry about Jean Claude Van Damme as a time-cop and I think I gave Skynet an existential complex. In Part Three, you and I built a time machine and travelled into the past to beat Moses and Pharaoh in doubles tennis. Remember? No? Well, go and read them. I’ll wait. Done? Good. Now, here’s how to make time travel profitable and even more fun!
All this could be yours!

First though, some housekeeping. Health and safety, right? You can just skip down to the ‘profit and fun’ sections if you want (I made them extra noticeable for exactly that reason) but you're going to need to know this.

The Map

In order to get anywhere, you will need impossibly complicated coordinates.

The roadmap of history is also the roadmap of divergent realities. Going back in time might be simpler, but if you’re going into the future you’ll need to pick between divergences. If you do visit the past, you’ve immediately created an infinity-load of new realities which will probably affect your reality-cluster indexing-system. You need to be prepared for all these things if you ever want to get home.

Getting a map might seem like the obvious solution. In the Terry Gilliam film Time Bandits, the bandits steal God’s map of time. It can only be described as ‘a good start’. When you’ve sorted out the navigation problem, or if you don’t care, everything else will seem inconsequential. But it’s those seemingly unimportant things that will kill a time-traveller, no matter your map:


It destroyed the aliens in War of the Worlds. Remember how Homer Simpson went back in time once and sneezed on a dinosaur and they all died?

Diseases adapt rapidly. That’s the advantage of generational diversification spread over several rapidly breeding populations of hundred-billions (aka evolution). You’re facing all possible mutations of every disease ever: bubonic plague, malaria, scarlet fever, cholera, influenza, smallpox, tuberculosis, leprosy and all of their drunk, angry cousins. If you travel into the future, there are potentially countless genetically-engineered afflictions too: leper-pox, laser-flu, grey-goo nanobot disease, sky-AIDS and fungal infections that reanimate your dead body with a lust for juicy human brains.

If you make it home, you need to be decontaminated. If not, you’ve killed all of us too. Thanks. You’re terrible at time-travelling.


Fit In

All over the world, whether the population is rich or poor, black or white, Neolithic or a space-faring civilization of chrome-plated cyborgs, some folks will fear and hate you. Even if your skin colour doesn’t give people culture shock, you won’t speak the language or know anything about local customs.

Local customs are... very important

It goes without saying that nobody should see you using your time machine. If you don’t keep your head down you’ll have stupid Jean Claude Van Damme policing your time-line, Time Cop style, before you know it. That’s why you need to think about what you leave behind, too:


If you’re going to criminally exploit time, you need to keep an especially low profile. Not only do you have local authorities to worry about – all those traditional coppers and narks – you’ve got the chance of time-police too. You also have my fullest endorsement. Maybe swing by and pick me up on your way past, eh?

You will be able to easily research and fake the paperwork you’ll need in the past. You can even assume someone’s legal identity, which is probably safest. But if you’re going to the future, you’re totally screwed. What if they have DNA biometrics and brain-scans? Will you need to be tattooed with a barcode or some futuristic QR code?

Not a time-traveler. Not seeking wealth and debauchery. No need to further inspect my documents. No need to arrest me. I am not a droid you're looking for.

Will you need a letter of recommendation from the robo-pope? Will you be enslaved by alien ghosts from beyond the stars? If you’re going into the future, you need to be prepared for all this and more. So don’t get carried away when we approach this topic:

----- PROFIT -----

FINALLY! What we’re all here for! Enough of this health and safety nonsense, let’s get down to some real business.

The obvious way of making money from time-travel is past-trading – using your fore-knowledge of events like lottery numbers, stock market movements and sports victories to make huge piles of money.

This was the day the Time Cops were on strike

It can be tricky, though. Random events like a lottery draw won’t turn out the same as ‘last time’ (your version of the past). Random is always going to be random. When you’re in the flow of time, you don’t get to pick which reality you travel down. Yes, there will be a version (infinite versions) of the universe where the result turns out the same as your own past. But there will more versions (also infinite versions, technically) where they turn out every single other possible way too. At odds of nearly 14 million to 1 for the UK lottery, for every single winning version of you there are fourteen million losers. Sport can be random, too, but I guess vague win-lose bets on absolutely certain matches might pay off eventually.

The stock market will fluctuate differently, especially if you start making quick, incisive, profitable deals. Your best bet is to invest a small, unnoticed amount of money into small time companies like Fox, Ford Motors, Volkswagen, Coca Cola, British Petroleum, Glaxo-Smith Kleine… anyone evil. It won’t be free, obviously. Then you bury your stock certificates and dig them up in, say, a century’s time. It’ll require forethought, planning, an element of risk and probably also legal consultation, which isn’t free either. Then you’ll need to travel into a future where they have similar money to ours and your stocks are still valuable. You’ll have to deal with quite a lot of attention when you cash these stocks in, too. They’d be worth billions. It might attract attention, but that’s your damn problem. So is importing these huge piles of money into your ‘home time’.
Wow, this isn’t what usually happens in the mornings!

Another way of making small, unnoticed amounts of money is antique smuggling.* Small, old collectables like weapons, comic books, medals, lamps, old videos, old coins… art.
“I was astonished when I went into my attic and found a confirmed collection of Picasso/Van Gogh/Munch/Da Vinci masterpieces. How much do you think they’d be worth? Really? That much? I am astonished and surprised, officer! Why, to think that I am now a humble, eccentric millionaire! Gosh! Why, I have other attics and garages and warehouses that I recently brought, maybe it’s worth checking them for completely unexpected treasures…”
*All physical articles are vulnerable to dimensionally relative values – including you

----- FUN -----

This is what we all came here for, right? I mean, there’s no point going back in time to make the world a better place. It’s already a better place in an infinite number of alternate realities. If you want to live in a better world, find the coordinates for one and live there happily. But if you want to have fun with time-travel, we can have some fun with time-travel!

See these decadent, amoral, bloated, corrupt versions of beloved fictional characters? It could be you!

You can find a lover or five, in the style of Goodnight Sweetheart. Marry someone even. Pig out on honey-glazed beef/ham and roast dodo. Sleep in for a couple of months. Go back in time and see if Cleopatra was ever that sexy! Ever tried spit-roast stegosaur? You’d need one hell of a spit! There’s probably a world out there in which dinosaurs evolved from men! Hell, there’s probably a world out there in the multiverse populated entirely by horny clones of your favourite sex icon. There’s somewhere you can turn yourself into a cyborg with multi-spectrum eyes and go-go-gadget legs! You can get your brain preserved forever in a robotic jar-body!

There’s a future out there somewhere in which entirely licenced and legitimate surgeons will give you a bigger penis – no more of this junk email chicanery. Ever wondered how you perform in bed? Go back in time by half an hour and have sex with yourself.

Bearing in mind, your ‘home reality’ and your entire past will remain unchanged. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – nothing you do to yourself or history will make anything be magically deleted. If you want to go properly crazy? Riding into battle on dinosaurs with Ghengis Khan? Being Jack the Ripper? Ruling an entire world with your time-looped ill-gotten gains, proclaiming decrees from atop your golden pyramid decorated with statues of S&M while you piss apocalyptic, nuclear fire and have sex with demonic unicorns?

There’s no online image for that. Consider Rule 34 broken

The universe won't implode, you won't fracture time and nobody will care. Well, apart from the locals. They might get a bit rebellious. So the ultimate survival rule of the whole multiverse is pretty much the same as Google’s company motto – Don’t Be Evil.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Time Travel - Part Three

I have a very serious confession to make. Before I tell you, I want you to know I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you, it just started out as fun. But now I respect you too much to keep lying to you. I hope after I tell you this that you’ll still respect me too. I’ll understand if you don’t. Here goes:

I’m not actually a time-traveller.

I hinted at being one in both Part One and Part Two of this time-travelling trilogy, but it’s not true. I know; it’s a shock. It was a shock for me too, when I realised. Turns out I’m totally not who I thought I was, and my adventures across time have just been hallucinations caused by uncooked pork and cheap vodka watered down with nail polish remover.

But I did promise that I’d tell you how to build a time machine, so I’ll do my damn best. Based on a lifetime of extensive research, there are two ways to do it – the easy way and the difficult way. First:

The Difficult Way

Wormholes. They’re theoretical, but apparently maths supports their existence so strongly that they’re a safe bet. Wormholes are good because they’re exciting, instant highways around spacetime. Their entrances and exits may not need to exist on the same fourth-dimensional plane – they can move you across both time and space. If you calculate it right you can take the express lane to the future or pop back to the past. Then again, actually creating a useable wormhole in the first place involves exotic matter and negative energy and all kinds of other theoretical doodads. I might as well be telling you ride into the past on a golden unicorn which talks like Morgan Freeman – but then I did say this was the difficult way.

Obligatory joke about ‘exotic’ matter. Whatever, you’re not even reading this

In an article written by Stephen Hawking (for the Daily Mail, weirdly) he describes the problem with wormhole time-travel. Sure, the photo captions have failed to understand the basic premise of Stargate, but I’ll ignore that for the benefit of the Professor.

Only slightly more complicated than scaremongering, hypocrisy and puns

Basically, he believes the problem with wormhole time-travel is feedback from universal background radiation, similar to audio feedback that can break entire sound systems if left unchecked. But on the other hand, feedback takes a while to build up to a terminal level in sound systems, right? Maybe the same will be true of wormholes.

He also describes several other ways to time travel using relativity, but they’re all just shortcuts to the future. If the past is off limits, what’s the point? That’s no time machine; it’s just a fancy time capsule.

Of course, as I’ve stressed several times, if you jump through a random wormhole you will almost definitely end up in an incredibly weird universe – that is if you somehow win the lottery (times a million) and end up in an atmosphere you can breathe rather than the massive, unforgiving void of space. What you really need is a map of the relevant, safe and stable wormholes.

These guys got it absolutely 100% correct

The Easy Way

The universe is plural, in case you hadn’t gotten the message in Part One. There’s a multiverse out there with all kinds of differences, from individual neutron-spins to completely different galaxy clusters and everything in between. It’s mind-bogglingly huge. So, somewhere out there in all the calculable possibilities of existence, there’s probably a universe where things are exactly as you want them. This has, in the past, been used to devastating cultural effect to conclusively prove the existence of Santa.

People also use this same technique to argue about the existence of God – if everything possible is happening in infinite different universes, there must be a version of reality somewhere with an omnipotent God, right? Maybe even a God so omnipotent that it can break through the ‘walls of reality’ and become God of this world, too, for its own inscrutable reasons. Sadly the problem with this argument is the same as the problem Stephen Hawking had with his time-traveller party from the article I linked to earlier: in that case where is everyone?

Disclaimer: Physicists actually have crazy wild social lives

Whatever. This means there’s also someone out there in the infinite multiverse who’s trying to beam time travel directly into your brain. I mean, it’s a mathematical certainty, right? We’re talking about an infinite multiverse here! So just close your eyes, tilt your head back and prepare to receive the secret plans or teleporter beam or whatever the hell it is that comes for you. It might be that you need to be imagining it first, setting up a brainwave pattern as a signal – like an inter-dimensional emergency flare. Try that now.

If you’re still reading this, it probably didn’t work. But that’s because you’re one of the billions of versions of you to whom it didn’t happen, rather than the small number of versions of you to which it did happen (technically, both amounts are infinite. Infinity is tricky like that). But keep trying, you’ll get lucky one day. Of course, there's an small chance (infinity again) it will be the same day that God occurs in our probability-cluster, resulting in broad-spectrum hyperspace interference and completely ruining your neural rendering of the time-machine's detailed schematics.

Yeah, I'm pretty good techno-babble myself, actually.

In Part Four, the final part (phew), I’ll be giving you essential advice to surviving time-travel and making it work for you! And I should know, SINCE I AM A TIME-TRAVELER!!
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