Ripping Yarns...
Thrilling adventures at the frontiers of pop culture

"The very finest selections from Mr Berners-Lee's Electric Interweb, hand picked and presented for the more discerning browser."


Complaints and compliments to Stuart Houghton


Thursday, August 28, 2003

Obsessive copy editing blog


Never doubt the Godfather of Soul, but if you ask him how he's doing, I hope he would answer: I am well.


Posted by: Stuart / 1:26 pm ::link to this entry

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The Girl Cooties Theory of Genre Literature

We start by positing the existence of a body of sf readers and writers (numerically perhaps fairly small, but nevertheless extremely vocal) who are deathly afraid of getting girl cooties. "Hard sf" is their science fiction of choice, because it has the fewest girl cooties of any of the sf subgenres.

Posted by: Stuart / 11:53 am ::link to this entry

People are bastards, film at 11:00

The dozens of massive Siberian grizzly bears whose lives were catalogued for the groundbreaking eight-year study have been slaughtered in their nature sanctuary as a message to the Canadian researchers, Charlie Russell and Maureen Enns, to abandon the project. Their research has been the subject of a PBS television documentary, a bestselling book and hundreds of news stories across three continents.

The people who killed the bears nailed the gall bladder of a baby grizzly to the research station's kitchen wall as a gruesome taunt.

Posted by: Stuart / 11:02 am ::link to this entry

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

US Radio finally gets a liberal voice

The next day, KKBJ's Chuck Sebastian got some feedback from listeners who had just heard their first bit of liberal programming on a station that otherwise carries mostly right-wingers. "One guy said that it was a breath of fresh air to finally get somebody who knows what he's talking about," Sebastian said. He added, "Another said it was 'nice to hear somebody with an opinion the opposite of Michael Savage's ranting and raving.'"

Thought: could we convince the BBC to alternate John Gaunt with a fluffy liberal who doesn't make me hurl objects at the radio?

Posted by: Stuart / 11:32 am ::link to this entry

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Statesman or Skatesman?

"Last Christmas my Dad and me had a big argument. He'd found a picture of Enoch Powell on a pogo stick and claimed that politicians weren't as interesting as that any more.

I'm doing politics A level and thought that he was wrong. So I wrote to lots of them to ask them what they thought, and whether they had ever been on any of the following...

(a) a skateboard;
(b) roller skates and/or blades;
(c) a space hopper;
(d) a go kart;
(e) a death slide;
(f) a non-motorised scooter;
(g) a BMX bike;
(h) or any other locomotive child's toy?

Everyone said that none of them would write back. But lots did. And this website is the result."

Why I love the Interwweb, #21745.

Posted by: Stuart / 4:53 pm ::link to this entry

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The Discordian Colouring Book

""A Discordian Coloring Book, originally created in 1982, was printed only in a limited edition of 1,000 copies, but now, via the medium of the web it is available for more general viewing."

Posted by: Stuart / 11:29 am ::link to this entry

Principia Discordia - or, How I found the Goddess and what I did to Her when I found Her

The Magnum Opiate of Malaclypse the Younger, Wherein Is Explained Absolutely Everything Worth Knowing About Absolutely Anything.

Posted by: Stuart / 11:26 am ::link to this entry

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Amusing Salon article on modern drug slang

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has compiled a database of drug slang, as used by the 'kids' on the 'street'. Naturally, the Salon reporter thought he had better try out the pharmacological patois on a real live "candyman" (That's "drug dealer" to you, grandad.)

"The youth seemed confused; perhaps he was under the influence of laughing weed or was shaking off a bummer trip on Christmas trees. "Are you a cop?" he asked warily. That had me stumped. I quickly paged through the list and found the entry: "Cop" means "obtain drugs." "You better believe I'm a cop," I replied. The youth quickly turned and walked away, no doubt to find his big man (drug supplier). I left before he could return, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of a sale."

Posted by: Stuart / 12:02 pm ::link to this entry

Monday, August 18, 2003


A list of the 555-blah telephone numbers used in films, TV and radio.

Posted by: Stuart / 11:52 am ::link to this entry

Friday, August 15, 2003

Herald Sun: Whale flatulence stuns scientists

Easily the best headline I have read in a while.

"The researchers claim this is the first photograph of a minke whale letting one go in the icy waters of Antarctica."

Posted by: Stuart / 10:48 am ::link to this entry

Thursday, August 14, 2003

WCWN: Relative Wine Bottle Sizes

Just in case you should ever need to know.

What I want to know is, how do they pour a glass from the Nebuchadnezzar without either accidentally breaking the glass or getting wine all over the place?

Posted by: Stuart / 5:21 pm ::link to this entry

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

The Personal Promise Bible

(Found via Teresa Nielsen Hayden's excellent Making Light blog )
Christian? Unable to generalise? Then you'll love the Personal Promise Bible - a real bible, with your name search 'n' replaced for various thees and thous.

In a similar vein, Customized Classics offer personalised versions of classic literature. Worth a special mention is Romeo and Juliet - now with special 'happy ending' version.

Posted by: Stuart / 2:53 pm ::link to this entry

Conservatives == mental, say proper scientists

"A study funded by the US government has concluded that conservatism can be explained psychologically as a set of neuroses rooted in 'fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity'."

On the other hand...

"Liberals might be less intolerant of ambiguity, but they may be less decisive, less committed, less loyal"

Posted by: Stuart / 2:03 pm ::link to this entry

Monday, August 11, 2003

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Just finished reading this novel by Cory Doctorow - and enjoyed it very much. It is set in an (almost) post-scarcity & post-death future with money & conventional economics replaced by 'Whuffie' - (loosely) a measure of the respect and esteem accorded to you by your peers. One of the main problems with stories set in a utopia is lack of conflict, and Cory mostly handles this pretty well - only once did I think "Hmm, Idiot plot" (when the protagonist keeps putting off a crucial backup which you *know* is going to come back and bite him). The characters are interesting and the world well drawn. More amazingly, the author achieves the near-impossible by making this reader give a flying toss about Disneyland (if only for the duration of the novel).

The book is also notable for being released under the Creative Commons license, which (among other things) means that when you download a copy from here you won't be breaking the law.

Posted by: Stuart / 3:58 pm ::link to this entry

Sunday, August 10, 2003

subversive cross stitch

Tee hee.

Posted by: Stuart / 6:15 pm ::link to this entry

Friday, August 08, 2003

New Scientist on the latest Virtual Reality developments

Could the virtual food simulator be the next big diet fad?

Parents-to-be can 'feel ' their baby in the womb. with a system that converts ultrasound scans into tactile feedback.

Tactile feedback will also help pilots feel how their plane is performing via these body suits.

While these three examples rely on how realistic and believeable the VR environment is, this method of treating schizophrenic patients instead relies on using VR to simulate the hallucinations that often accompany the condition, in an attempt to prove to patients that what they are seeing is not real.

Posted by: Stuart / 1:46 pm ::link to this entry

The Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Cliches

Read 'em & weep.

Posted by: Stuart / 12:56 pm ::link to this entry

Economics of Science Fiction

Posted by: Stuart / 11:34 am ::link to this entry

Thursday, August 07, 2003

ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000

The American Library Association lists the 100 books which the public and politicians have attempted to ban.

Posted by: Stuart / 11:51 pm ::link to this entry

Sign Ray Bradbury's birthday card

"On August 22, 2003, Ray (Martian Chronicles) Bradbury turns 83 years old. To honor the man who has contributed so much to the world of science fiction, The Planetary Society wants to present our friend and Advisory Council member, Mr. Bradbury, with a giant birthday card - a card with "Happy Birthday" wishes from fans around the world."

Posted by: Stuart / 2:59 pm ::link to this entry

Nanomotor, 300 times smaller than a human hair

Now they just need to build a really small car to go with it.

Posted by: Stuart / 10:58 am ::link to this entry

electric sheep comix

Patrick Farley write and draws some of the most amazing and original comics around. Then he publishes them on the web.

Spiders is 'an alternate history of the afghan/u.s. conflict' while Delta Thrives is a beautifully drawn slice of future life.

Posted by: Stuart / 9:39 am ::link to this entry

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Alan Moore on Gulf War II and the War on Some Terror

"[Blair] would echo every pronouncement from the Oval Office, and then would express his deep indignation at the way in which most of the world's people continued to see him as "Bush's poodle." One can only imagine how cross he'd be if the phrase "Bush's cock- puppet" achieved similar currency."

Posted by: Stuart / 11:53 am ::link to this entry

Hive politics

Bees and other social insects seem to have complex systems for ensuring the status quo of the hive is maintained - including torture and imprisonment.

A researcher at the Univeristy of Sydney has selectively bred bees for a gene that allows non-queen workers to breed. When this happens the hives seem to function in a way analogous to an anarchist collective.

In conclusion, then - nature is weird.

Posted by: Stuart / 9:52 am ::link to this entry

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

National Pray-for-the-death-of-Bill-O'Reilly Day

Hustler's Larry Flynt has declared today a National Day of Prayer for the death of Fox News anchorman Bill O'Reilly.

Posted by: Stuart / 11:31 am ::link to this entry

Into the mud, S.C.U.M.M. queen!

ScummVM is a cross-platform emulator for point 'n' click adventure games that use the LucasArts S.C.U.M.M. engine. S.C.U.M.M. games include Sam & Max Hit the Road, Day of the Tentacle and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. It isn't 100% working yet, but it already supports a few games, with more on the way. You can download a copy of Beneath A Steel Sky to get you started.

Posted by: Stuart / 11:01 am ::link to this entry

Monday, August 04, 2003


Hairy, yak-loving programming god Jeff Minter is still in business. The Llamasoft website could do with a tidy up (the link to the blog on the main page appears to point to somewhere on Jeff's C: drive - a schoolboy error :-) but you can catch up with what he is currently working on and see pictures of his sheep. Which is nice.

Posted by: Stuart / 5:25 pm ::link to this entry

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Yahoo! News - Microsoft Finds New Uses for Usenet how sinister does that headline sound?

Not content with 'improving' email and the web with their subtle brand of innovation, Microsoft has set it's sights on USENET. It's Netscan demo doesn't look too dissimilar to Google Groups, with a few extra statistical views thrown in, but their plans to integrate news feeds into Outlook sounds like they are trying to hop onto the RSS aggregator bandwagon - I wonder if this might be in any way related to Google's recent dalliances with capturing Blogs?

Posted by: Stuart / 9:08 pm ::link to this entry

Friday, August 01, 2003


Purple Pussy is sheer deranged genius. At last, a webcomic that is even more fucked up than Goats.

Posted by: Stuart / 5:59 pm ::link to this entry

House of Leaves

I just found a copy of House of Leaves for £2.50 in a charity shop in Exmouth Market. Result!

Posted by: Stuart / 2:14 pm ::link to this entry

Experiemnts to perform on yourself,

Science is fun!

Posted by: Stuart / 1:17 pm ::link to this entry

Isabel Samaras

Isabel paints very strange pictures featuring TV & Film stars of yesteryear.

This, in particular, is genius.

Posted by: Stuart / 12:00 pm ::link to this entry

Random Pictures

Cool scripted page that grabs random images from the AltaVista image search.

Warning - may contain offensive and/or disturbing images.

Posted by: Stuart / 12:24 am ::link to this entry

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