Thursday, September 06, 2007

Carnival of Lockjaw

Cardhouse has posted some choice quotes from a book on fireworks. The factory explosion survivor is a good 'un, but this is my favourite:

"Because of such devices, nearly as many people died celebrating independence – around four thousand over the years -- as actually died fighting in the War of Independence itself. The glorious Fourth became known as the “Bloody Fourth” and, because of the large number of severe infections from burns, the “Carnival of Lockjaw.”

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Cri di coeur

There's a status bar at the bottom of the CMS software we use to put the magazine together. Since launch, it has held a brief text message - similar to the "I'll find something to put here" at the bottom of a Facebook page, except this one has spooled through random quotes from the minds of, presumably, our merry band of internal developers.

A new one today: "l'enfer, c'est les autres". They must be getting a lot of support calls.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Why the Halo movie might be trouble

A synopsis of the Halo comic does not sound promising:

The Chief is flying on the ship, then on the ground, in a firefight with Covenant forces. There is no dialog, just shooting and grenades going off. The aliens look particularly gruesome, and the artwork seems very faithful to the look of the games. Master Chief blows open a door to enter a room where he faces down a very large force... The Chief is fighting back a huge force that just keeps coming and coming. Finally, a line of enemies lines up and shoots him all at once, and he falls.

Ah, gaming: source of such rich and emotional narrative. Although in the comic's defence, it is apparently written by Brian Michael Bendis - one of the four comic writers who I could name, and who I like from reading John's copies of Powers.


Destruction still mutually assured:

"This doomsday apparatus, which became operational in 1984, during the height of the Reagan-era nuclear tensions, is an amazing feat of creative engineering." According to Blair, if Perimetr senses a nuclear explosion in Russian territory and then receives no communication from Moscow, it will assume the incapacity of human leadership in Moscow or elsewhere, and will then grant a single human being deep within the Kosvinsky mountains the authority and capability to launch the entire Soviet nuclear arsenal.

Slate points out that Russia is still sat on a Strangelove-esque Doomsday Device that has never knowingly been deactivated, and is more likely to have recently been re-activated. It's pure Strangelove all the way: a vast base built inside a quartz mountain, training designed to turn men into mindless button-pushers (no word on whether they all had to wear orange overalls), and machinery that could wipe out most life on the planet "semi-automatically". Which suggests we're one blown fuse or crazed nutter away from oblivion.

Not to be outdone in the ridiculous yet utterly terrifying stakes, the US also boasts a "launch on warning" system. Bonus dread comes from GIs talking about the "permissive action". This is the fail-safe that requires two key-holders to activate the machinery, supposedly preventing a crazed general from starting the war in the style of Jack D. Ripper. It doesn't offer the security you might have hoped for:

You just shoot the other guy and "rig up a thing where you tie a string to one end of a spoon," he told me, "and tie the other end to the guy's key. Then you can sit in your chair and twist your key with one hand while you yank on the spoon with the other hand to twist the other key over."

So, not only is the nuclear deterrent still there and likely to go off entirely by accident, but there are bored GIs down there idly working out ways to bypass the security system.

Originally uploaded by Mr Jonty