Good darts

The switch has been thrown on a telescope specifically designed to seek out alien life. Funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the finished array will have 350 six-metre antennas and will be one of the world’s largest. The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) will be able to sweep more than one million star systems for radio signals generated by intelligent beings.
Its creators hope it will help spot definite signs of alien life by 2025.
“For Seti, the ATA’s technical capabilities exponentially increase our ability to search for intelligent signals, and may lead to the discovery of thinking beings elsewhere in the Universe,” said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Seti Institute.”

Down at my local, ‘The Slug and Philosopher’ there was a different opinion.
“It could be that our friend Mr Allen has wasted his money with this one,” said Wayne, captain of our darts team. “Although wiv the more powerful equipment we can pick up signals from a wider and deeper section of the universe, that’s not the factor that will prevent us chatting with aliens.”

“Go on, Wayne.” I encouraged him.
“Yeah, yer main problem with alien contact is not yer first three dimensions but it’s yer dimension of time. Until man masters time and distance you can kiss those aliens’ butts goodbye.”

“What do you mean, Wayne?”
“To have two way communications with distant or near life forms you have to co-exist in the same time frame. What’s more both sets have to have reached an advanced technological state. If you live in different times then the best you can hope for is to pick up the historic signals of a long dead civilisation.”

“Like one day little green guys will pick up Eastenders?”
“Yeah, and they’ll be glad our civilisation died out, but imagine that the life of the universe is the double ring around the edge of a dartboard, circular and vast, and that the life of our civilisation is a dart hole in double one. Now imagine that the alien civilisation’s lifespan is measured by the point of a dart and that the dart is thrown at random towards the dart board. Wot are the chances of it landing near our hole?”

“About as likely as you buying me the next pint?” I ventured.
“Yeah, and that’s no chance!”

It’s nice to know you can rely on some things in an increasingly dodgy universe.


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Light Sabre

As part of Star Wars’ 30th Anniversary celebrations, Space Shuttle Discovery will carry an unusual cargo in the form of Luke Skywalker’s light sabre as it lifts off with seven astronauts on its way to the International Space Station later this month.
The famous sci-fi prop was given to NASA officials by some of the main Star Wars characters including Chewbacca, Boba Fett, Jango Fett, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, various X-Wing pilots, Jedi, and storm troopers from the Golden Gate Garrison of the 501st Legion.

These are the same crack storm troopers that allowed themselves to be humiliated by a kid with a sword, a girl, a hippy with a pistol and a seven-foot tall teddy-bear.  Known throughout the galaxy as the ‘storm pussies’ their embarrassment means that they may never remove their helmets.  Darth Vader said of them that “never have so many been so outwitted by so few, only the X-Wing pilots have been more of a disappointment to me.”

“Yeee aaahh ooooo!” said Chewbacca, which is Wookie for “You came, You saw, We kicked your arse!”

Doug Mattice, of Space Centre Houston, NASA’s visitor complex, said:
“We hope the Discovery crew get it out while they’re up there and spend some time mucking about with it.”
What’s he talking about?
“It would be funny to think there were astronauts up in space attacking each other with the Star Wars light sabre.”
Oh yeah, the light sabre.

Yeah, that would be hilarious, perhaps they could dress up in some of the uniforms as well, that would scare the Russians when they meet up in the Space Station.

Help us Old Ben Behind Me, you’re our only hope.


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I had a stalker on the walk home from work last night.  One of those blue and yellow police helicopters was taking the same route as me across the town.  It kept flying in little circles and I could see the crew looking down at me.  I wasn’t concerned at first.  I was eating an ‘individual’ pork pie that I had bought for lunch but then decided to eat as a treat on the way home.  (What the hell is an ‘individual’ pork pie?  Has it no friends?  Has it a unique character all of its own?). 

Moreover, I was on the way home from work, so everything was ok. 

The police swooped lower for a closer look and I could lip-read what the observer was saying into his radio;

“He is wearing a black jacket and he has a bun.”

The Control Centre crackled back at him through his headphones.

“What do you mean ‘shoot to kill’?” shouted the observer,“He’s just some fat bloke!”

The pilot had heard some of that and I saw the machine gun at the front swing around to point at me.

The headphones crackled again.

“No!” replied the observer, “Not a flack jacket and a gun!  A black jacket and a bun!”

Control was silent for a few seconds then sent another burst of static into his ear.

“I don’t know what sort of bun!  Do you want me to ask him?”

The megaphone on the helicopter came to life and bellowed down at me: “What sort of bun is that you are eating?”

Several other pedestrians were looking now.

“It’s a Melton Mowbray pork pie!”  I yelled, spaying crumbs from my mouth.  I waved the pie in the air.

The observer reported to control, “He’s a foreigner; I didn’t understand a word of what he said”.

Control gave him his orders and he relayed them to the pilot.

“We’ve got to leave him and go back to base; we can’t be seen to be harassing immigrants.”

“It’s a pork pie!”  I shouted at the retreating helicopter.

 A little old woman who had been watching, glowered at me, “Bloody foreigners!” she muttered.


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Shibboleth 2007

Sculptor Doris Salcedo has unveiled a hole at the Tate Modern – the latest installation in the art gallery’s Turbine Hall.

The work, entitled Shibboleth 2007, runs the full 167 metres of the cavernous hall on London’s South Bank.  It begins as a crack then widens and deepens as it snakes across the room.  Colombian artist Salcedo said the work symbolised racial hatred and division in society.

“I always try to relate my work to tragedy,” she said.
And I know that many of the rest of us will do the same.

In trying to comprehend this interesting piece, it is important to understand the title.  Shibboleth is Hebrew for ‘stream of water’ but it has come to describe an arbitrary test or custom that distinguishes one group from another.

For example, one group who understand why a crack and hole in the floor of the Tate Modern is art but a crack and hole in the street outside my house is ‘essential maintenance.’

And a second group who don’t understand it and have no intention of setting foot in the Tate Modern, especially now that there is an additional Health and Safety hazard to contend with.

Salcedo claims that the work took her over a year to make and apparently spent the past five weeks installing it in the Tate, but she refused to reveal how it was achieved.
“What is important is the meaning of the piece.  The making of it is not important,” she said, adding that the work was “bottomless… deep as humanity”.

I disagree there.  I think the making of it is very important.  What was the hole in originally and how do you pick up a hole that you have made, carry it somewhere else and ‘install’ it?
Also, if it is bottomless, surely there must be a corresponding hole in Australia, China or somewhere?
Perhaps that’s what she’s done, perhaps there’s an identical installation in the Sydney Museum of Modern Art and if you drop a fruit gum or a pencil into the hole in the Tate it pops out in Sydney and frightens the night watchman.

It needs testing.
Next time you’re passing the Tate pop in there and stuff something down their hole. I’d volunteer but my life has enough holes in it already.



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Strictly on a Journey – Review

Why is everybody on a ‘journey’?  In ‘Strictly Not Dancing’ it’s only the first night and everyone will improve, they are on a ‘journey’.  In ‘I’m a B List Celebrity Hype Me Up Here’ everybody’s behaving like spoilt children, but it’s ok, they are on a ‘journey’. 
No they are not, they’ve been on a journey to get there and most of them will make the return journey home, but the whole point of the programme is that they stay where they are. 

If you want to see somebody on a journey, watch Michael Palin; he’s always off somewhere or other at the licence payers’ expense.  Or that Bruce Parry in ‘Tribe’; he’ll travel half way around the world and live off a handful of tree stump.  Those are real journeys.

Anyway, thank goodness ‘Strictly etc’ is back, it’s so exciting watching all those celebrities dancing with the professional dancers.  Last night Techtonic and Labia were attempting a progressive dance including a Guapacha step whilst dressed as the characters from ‘Dr Zhivago’.  But once in the Sweetheart position Techtonic got a piece of Labia’s muff trapped in his teeth and during the struggle to free himself they tripped and went headfirst into the audience.  Luckily they fell onto the sweet trolley and two black forest gateau’s and a bowl of sherry trifle cushioned their landing.  The trolley shot across the dance floor, down the stairs and out through the emergency exit with Techtonic and Labia desperately clutching onto it. 

A witness from outside the Television centre stated; “They were lucky because the number 220 bus just missed running them down, but they were unlucky because their trolley got caught on the number 72 bus and they were dragged off in the direction of Fulham.”
“Do you think they’ll be back next week?” asked our reporter.
“I dunno mate, it can get pretty rough in Fulham and they were dressed like fairies and smothered in what looked like cream cake.  If the people don’t get them, their cats and dogs will.”

If they get back, now that’s what I call a journey.

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Strictly come thieving


Thieves have targeted the dressing room of the female stars of Strictly Come Dancing.  Dozens of necklaces, bracelets and earrings were taken in the daring raid.  “The haul must weigh about four or five kilos and have a street value of about three pounds fifty,” stated a police spokesman.  “God help us all if that lot hits the streets of Manchester!”

Also, taken was Strictly Star, Bruce Forsyth who climbed into the back of the thieves getaway car thinking it was his limo’ home.  Later that day the thieves agreed to make a four figure donation to Children in Need if the BBC took Sir Bruce back.

“Those poor crooks were literally a captive audience and after the first ten botched up music hall jokes Sir Bruce had them begging for his release,” said the spokesman, “it would have been particularly cruel to leave them suffering for another moment, so we agreed to fetch him back next Friday.”


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