Friday, 18 November 2016

18/11/16 - FTDS vs. Tallboy

There’s a lot of talk of fascists in the news at the moment. Y’know, because the President-elect of the United States is one, as are half of his cabinet. And the hordes of racists in Trump’s America and Brexit Britain who have collectively decided that 2016 is the year in which they can all stop pretending to be human and instead plunge into full-blown racist fuckheadery. There are countless bastards out there. And a whole lot of fascists.

So let’s take a more light-hearted look at the world of fascism (!) and consider one of Hitler’s greatest failed ideas: the V-3 supergun. Now, it goes without saying that Hitler was and still is the poster boy for fascist fuckheads everywhere, and like all true fascists his principle aim in life was to make as many people as possible suffer because he was projecting his own inadequacies on an unspeakable canvas of violence. Perhaps, like Donald Trump, he had laughably small genitalia and a spectacular insecurity complex that forced him to lash out? Seems likely. And the V-3 programme, had it worked, would have been the ultimate manifestation of what we’ll now refer to as Fascist Tiny Dick Syndrome (FTDS): the world’s biggest gun, protruding phallically out of the ground in northern France, aiming its incendiary ejaculate squarely at London.

To provide some context, by 1943 Hitler found himself increasingly outmanoeuvred; the Allies were bombing the crap out of German cities, and he was pretty annoyed about it. His FTDS was itching. But he had an ace up his sleeve (or so he thought) – a massive secret bunker that had been hollowed out of a French chalk hill, which slave labourers had hauled millions of tonnes of rock out of with their bare hands.
The plan was at once hideously complicated and extremely simple: twenty-five gun barrels pointed at London, a hundred miles away, able to fire ten bombs every minute, over and over, until there was nothing left but a smoking crater. A pretty focused idea – just pummel the shit out of Britain with lots of bombs – but the actual mechanics of it were, as you might imagine, rather tricky.

The physical workings of the supergun are still cloaked in mystery, as quite a lot of it was destroyed in a bombing raid – more on that later – and the development of the project was so secretive that few records exist. The crux of it was that each gun barrel needed to be 130 metres long and angled at 50 degrees in order to blast the payload across the Channel at 1500m/s. The bombs were to be fired in a manner similar to a railgun (which launches projectiles with electromagnetic charges rather than explosives like gunpowder or what-have-you), although the evidence suggests that Hitler’s engineers had some difficulty making the thing work. And in addition to actually firing the supergun, it was a bit of a headscratcher to devise an appropriate bomb that would remain stable in a straight line at supersonic speeds and, since the barrels weren’t rifled to impart spin, that wouldn’t just tumble uncontrollably out of the sky.

Despite the colossal scale of this project, the Allies knew nothing about it at all until the site was discovered by Canadian troops after D-Day. They were, as you can imagine, pretty surprised by the magnitude of it, and it became something of a priority to figure out how to destroy it. The Americans devised an idea to blow it up with an explosives-laden drone, but it, er… well, it didn’t go all that well.
The notion was this: they’d load twelve tonnes of explosives into a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber, fly it over Calais, aim it at the supergun, then the pilot and co-pilot would bail out and the unmanned plane would dive into the V-3 (with a second, nearby plane taking the controls remotely), thus smashing it comprehensively to bits. Unfortunately, however, when Joe Kennedy Jr and Wilford Willy took off on the perilous mission, the B-24 unexpectedly blew up over Suffolk after just twenty minutes in the air, vaporising them both.

However, the supergun site at Mimoyecques was abandoned by the Nazis after Tallboy bombs were dropped in and rendered the whole setup redundant. Engineered by bouncing bomb mastermind Barnes Wallis, the 21-foot-long Tallboy was an ingenious bomb that was tapered to remain aerodynamic near the speed of sound, and also designed to bury itself fifty feet under the ground and trigger a small earthquake; eight Tallboys were dropped into the supergun site at once and, rather effectively, really fucked their shit up. The tunnel networks, the foundations, the munition stores, the bunkers, all knocked into a cocked hat in one fell swoop. The RAF’s 617 Squadron – the famous Dambusters themselves – delivered the unprecedented payload. The devastating Tallboy was the ultimate riposte to Hitler’s supergun posturing.

So when Trump’s own FTDS manifests itself as a colossal supergun pointed at… well, whoever’s riled him on Twitter that day, try not to panic. If the worst comes to the worst, the RAF still have the Tallboy blueprints.





A little bit of loveliness from Ben & Jerry’s

Famous speeches, with added Trump

Peterborough Reunions

In the late 1970s and early '80s, photographer Chris Porsz spent some time ambling around Peterborough taking pictures of daily life. He's now spent the last seven years tracking down all of his subjects for a before-and-after shot. It's genuinely incredible. Look!



Bacon Nerf War

Obama - by Pete Souza

An inspiring collection of photos from the last eight years, by the Official White House Photographer. Click here to see the full set.

(Just imagine what the equivalent set of Trump images will look like in four years' time. Horrorshow.)





Friday, 4 November 2016

04/11/16 - SpaceTrump

It can hardly have escaped your attention that Donald Trump is a total madman. Normally I try to remain objective and rational when it comes to matters of politics, but frankly the idea of handing the nuclear codes to a dangerous, bigoted, self-serving lunatic makes my blood turn to pulpy crushed ice. He has none of the qualities you’d want in a President: rather than absorbing the inevitable criticism of office with aplomb and just getting on with things, he likes to halt everything when he’s criticised and make everybody pay. He’s juvenile, petty, and obsessed with personal vengeance. It is genuinely, staggeringly gobsmacking that such a man could even be considered for office in 2016, let alone be a realistic contender. America, clearly, has gone mental. (Or, at least, quite a lot of it has; Brexit has proven that you can’t paint an entire nation with the daft prick brush simply because approximately half of them suddenly reveal themselves to be massive racists.)
But fear not. I have a solution. All we need to do is convince The Donald that he’d be better off living on Venus. And with the right ego-massage, I reckon this is pretty easily achievable. You see, here’s why Trump is ideally suited to moving one planet closer to the sun:

It’s tropical, but there’s no Mexicans
Man, he hates Mexicans. I mean, he hates everyone, he’s a colossal racist, but for some reason he’s got it in for Mexicans in particular. But we can convince him of Venus’s Southern-state sunshine without worrying about funny foreign people spoiling the view. (Probably best not to mention that the average surface temperature is 462 degrees centigrade – let him find out when he gets there and all the fluids in his body immediately boil away into the atmosphere.)

It’s really hard to get there
He likes a challenge. Also, he hates NASA. So imagine the ego boost he could give himself by throwing a load of money (possibly at cheap Mexican labour? That’d feed neatly off his inherent hypocrisy) at building a Venus-bound spaceship.
Venus is actually a lot closer to Earth than Mars is – about half the distance, in fact. So all of the hurdles that have presented themselves in getting probes to Mars (largely around fuel – you get into a vicious cycle where for every unit of fuel you load on board, you’re carrying more weight and thus need to load on yet more fuel to carry it [although this is really only a problem for the first bit of the journey, as you’re burning fuel off all the time {it’s the launch that’s the really tricky bit}]) are diminished somewhat in terms of distance. The heat is the problem. Flying closer to the sun does dangerous, burny things. And he certainly wouldn’t be able to land - we just haven’t developed the heatproofing to allow flight within the simmering Venusian airspace. His craft would be on fire for the entire time he was flying over the planet, which wouldn’t be very long, as it would quickly disintegrate. But we don’t have to tell him this. It’s pretty clear that he’s not the sort of person that plans ahead.

The atmosphere is full of sulphuric acid
A tricky sell, but not impossible. Maybe we can convince him that sulphuric acid has a rejuvenating effect on the skin, nourishes the hair and pumps up the libido? Like some sort of spa treatment?
Amusingly for us Earthbound observers, sulphuric acid is highly corrosive, and happily carves its way through flesh, metal and rock like a hot knife through, er, burning flesh. If you were to wear a thick wetsuit and airtight breathing apparatus then you could probably float around Venus a bit, provided that you somehow stayed about 35 miles above the surface, but that’d soon all melt away and the acid would blind you and eat your skin. But again, that might not be your biggest problem, given that you’d be on fire. Let The Donald find this out for himself, it’ll be hilarious.

The surface is constantly plagued by hurricane-force winds
Surely a massive boon for a blowhard like Trump? A bit of healthy competition for all of his own blustering hot air.
Let’s say he somehow managed to make it onto the surface of Venus and tried to walk about a bit. He’d have a really hard time. The howling, swirling gales wouldn’t just have him bent double, they’d be lifting him off the ground, slamming him back down, choking the air from his lungs… it really is quite an entertaining image. Picture it with the Benny Hill theme playing, it’s quite special.

…oh yeah, and there’s no oxygen
Trump doesn’t require oxygen, of course, as he’s fuelled entirely by hatred.
Regular humans have evolved to breathe oxygen. You know this. It works on Earth because there are plenty of happily photosynthesising green things strewn about the place, sucking in carbon dioxide and pumping out oodles of delicious oxygen.
How many Earth-y plants do you think there are growing on Venus?
That’s right, fuck all.
The atmosphere is extremely dense, and composed largely of carbon dioxide - if you want to breathe on Venus, you’d better bring a shitload of trees with you. And find some way to stop them catching fire. Again – and this is developing into a bit of a theme – we don’t need to tell Trump about the trees. Let this be a voyage of discovery for him.

It’d cost a bloody fortune
He’s a rich man. (Not as rich as he would be if he wasn’t genuinely shit at business and didn’t keep going bankrupt, but it’s a scale issue – he’s still doing alright.) The one surefire way to convince Trump to fly to Venus would be this simple argument: ‘Think how impressed everyone will be with how successful you are. No-one’s been to Venus before. That’s probably just because it’s too expensive.’
He’d walk right into that, fucking chump that he is.

He wouldn’t have anything to eat
You may need to find a creative way to reframe this hurdle. Perhaps appeal to his patriotic pioneer spirit? Compare his step into the red-hot unknown with the early trailblazers of the Old West?
There’s no way you can grow any kind of crops on Venus, and it’s not like you can get Ocado to pop round. Also, there’s nothing to drink – fluids immediately boil, and the planet has no magnetic field so all the hydrogen molecules get swept away into interplanetary space by solar winds, so the steam won’t even fall back down as rain. You can’t make water there, even if you had some way to stop it disappearing. It’s hopeless. Which, of course, is all great news. But maybe you should leave this bit out of the pitch.

The crushing loneliness would destroy him
There aren’t any humans on Venus, and nobody would be stupid enough to go with Trump. Imagine a lifetime spent alone with him. It really doesn’t bear thinking about.
Thankfully he has little awareness of the reality that surrounds him, so he’d be fine with making the trip solo. He genuinely doesn’t seem to notice whether there’s anyone near him or not (well, unless they’re foreign/female/unsavoury in some other way) – he could start an argument in an empty room. He’s probably doing it right now.
Some fairly simple calculations about radio waves, the speed of sound/light, how transmissions travel in a vacuum and what-have-you suggest that he’d have no contact whatsoever with Earth, which is super news for us and entirely immaterial to him.
He’d have no access to the mass media, although he definitely wouldn’t notice as he just loves shouting inconsequentially into the Twitter void. (Again, best not to mention that when he takes his phone out to tweet ‘I’m starting to regret this, it’s really inhospitable here #itburns’, it’d immediately catch fire before he got to type anything. And he wouldn’t have any signal. He’ll find out.) So at first he wouldn’t spot that that there was no-one around. But after a few years (assuming he’d survived, which he wouldn’t), he’d start to notice that he had no-one to boss about or molest. And that would get right under his orange, leathery skin.
The best thing about this plan is that, even if he were to somehow survive (which he obviously definitely wouldn’t – ah, you get the idea now), his only option would be to slowly drive himself mad. Put yourself in that situation and, for the sake of argument, pretend that you were somehow able to make yourself immortal: you’d go totally insane. Think of the Buddhist hell of Arbuda - a frozen plain swept by blizzards, in which one must exist naked and alone for the amount of time it would take to empty a barrel of sesame seeds if you were to remove a single seed every hundred years. Swap ‘frozen’ and ‘blizzards’ for ‘really fucking hot and windy’. Sounds ghastly. Or consider this quote from Hendrik Willem van Loon’s Story of Mankind: ‘High in the north in a land called Svithjod there is a mountain. It is a hundred miles long and a hundred miles high, and once every thousand years a little bird comes to this mountain to sharpen its beak. When the mountain has thus been worn away, a single day of eternity will have passed.’
Spending all that time with just the voice in your head for company? That doesn’t sound like any fun at all. Trump would be slowly but comprehensively crushed, possibly literally, by his own cretinous fatuousness.

And the really brilliant part? Donald Trump would be totally up for going to Venus. Because he’s a fucking madman.





Justify a Whole Lotta Love

A completely excellent Madonna/Led Zep mashup.

Super Mitchell Brothers

Ventusky

A beautiful, customisable data-vis weather thingy - click here.


Luigi Board?