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Blacker than a very black thing indeed

vantablack

You’ve probably seen this stuff in the news: Vantablack. It’s called “the blackest black.” It’s a coating developed by a company called Surrey Nanosystems made out of teeny nanotubes (I mean, I realize there are no big nanotubes, but bear with me). The thing about these little pigment fragment things is that they’re something like five times longer than they are wide and this, somehow, makes a nest that traps upwards of 98% of the light that falls on them. It gets closer to 100% with every generation.

In practical terms, it means things painted with Vantablack throw back so little light that we simply cannot perceive them as three dimensional. In the still above (taken from this video) a spherical lollipop shape is dragged across a flat shape, both coated in Vantablack, and your eyeballs just cannot deal. Follow the link and look at some of the other videos. It’s very cool.

This has obvious military applications, which is what funded the development, I feel sure. But it has obvious artistic applications, too. And here follows a fun bit of drama.

There’s a London-based artist named Anish Kapoor who works with architects to make those big dreary public sculptures that are, like, simple shapes supposed to be chock full of meaning or some shit. The mirror finish ones are okay; at least they reflect things around them in an interesting way. Anyway, he stepped in and bought the license to Vantablack for art. In other words, only artist Anish Kapoor may use Vantablack.

I can’t imagine many artists would have a use for this stuff, outside the kind of people who paint bullfighters and Elvises on velvet, but that’s just the sort of dick move that pisses off ‘the art community’ to no end.

So there’s this other London artist named Stuart Semple (his art sucks too, by the way) who worked with paint chemists to develop what he calls “the pinkest pink.” Anybody can buy it, except Anish Kapoor. You have to tick a little box that says I am not Anish Kapoor before you can check out.

As security goes, that’s not the strongest, and it wasn’t long before Anish Kapoor posted a picture of his middle finger coated in the pinkest pink.

So yesterday, Semple fired back. He went to his pet paint chemists and they developed what he calls Black 2.0 — not quite as black as Vantablack, but much cheaper, needs no special handling and, most important, available to people who are not Anish Kapoor.

I’m trying to talk myself into buying some (he’s selling it for what it costs to make, in a mad frenzy of virtue signaling). But I can’t imagine I have a use for it. I hated Elvis.

Good weekend, everyone!

March 31, 2017 — 7:58 pm
Comments: 30

Now I’m the Vampire Meow

catbite

Little bastard bit me this morning. Jack the Cat, not Uncle B. I was putting him out for attacking the other cat and he decided he really, really didn’t want to go out.

Broke the skin and everything. Yes, yes…I know. Cat mouths are chock full of bacteria. My hand is swollen and sore, but it’s not yet hot and red. I’m keeping an eye on it.

But we have confirmed the problem: there is a strange cat in his territory. A much bigger cat, naturally, as Jack is a little squirt. Uncle B apparently stalked the garden making like a gorilla at Stupid O’Clock last night to scare off the trespasser (and called the next door neighbor to explain today, just in case she caught the performance live).

My hand hurts and I’m sulky. I’m’a go drink now.

March 30, 2017 — 9:16 pm
Comments: 13

Local boy makes bad

masood

Huh. I said I had no local knowledge of the Westminster knife attacker. I was wrong. He was a local boy, and the local papers are full of it.

He was born in Kent (the county next door to the East) and spent time in prison in both East Sussex and West Sussex. A lot of time in prison. He was a very bad dude.

I had coffee with a neighbor this morning who lived in the same little town as he did for some years. She was livid that the BBC (I think it was) ran an article with a headline something like, “One of only two black men in this picturesque village, Masood never felt accepted.” Implying (but not quite daring to say) evil English racists drove him to violence.

He was a violent thug with a long arrest record and a history of knife crime and intimidation. The kind of guy, you scooped up your kids and went inside when you saw him walking down the street. Of course he was never accepted! She was seriously buttmad to be called a racist.

“The other black man in the village,” she said, “he was lovely.”

It was good to see her get a taste of the MSM, anyhow. She’s the most liberally liberal in the village.

Meanwhile, token Muslim peer ‘Baroness’ Warsi said of Masood “he was a violent Christian before he was a violent Muslim.” Which is true. He converted in prison and picked that Muslimy name. But then you have to ask, what attracts violent men to Islam, and why does it make them more violent?

Finally, our Home Secretary and local dimbulb MP, Amber Rudd, made some off-the-cuff remark on the day after the attack to the effect that Londoners going about their business proved that the terrorists will never win. Standard post-attack fare, right? Only, I have just now worked out what our leaders mean when they say that. They mean, “we don’t have to do anything, we don’t have to change anything, we don’t have to react in any way to what just happened; we’ll go on just exactly as before and that will show those old terrorists we’re not scared.”

But we are scared, fam. If you have a brain in your head, you’re scared. And they goddamn good and well better do something about it.

March 29, 2017 — 9:40 pm
Comments: 16

Rage Face II: the Hissening

rage

I went to pick up Jack to feed him this morning, and he came unstrung. Hissing, yowling, giving me the rage eye. Terrifying.

He’s usually a happy, good-natured little chap (I’ve seen his rage face once before, but he had a pretty good excuse). So we booked him into the vet.

Slight fever and what look like vampire bites on his neck, though the vet thought they could be deep claw marks. If it’s Charlotte, it has to be claws – she’s had all her teeth pulled. Anyway, the wounds are slightly infected. They gave him a broad-spectrum antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory (which I’ll have to repeat for a week. Giving medicine to cats – so much fun!). The vet thinks it was pain causing him to go nuts.

But the vet also thinks he might be dealing with an emasculating territorial issue. Like an other cat issue. We haven’t seen a strange cat in the yard for a long time, but the weather’s been nice and cats are likely travelling farther. No fighting noises, but he has been showing anxieties about going out the front door.

He’s a little squirt, so territory fights would be pretty scary for him. That kind of othercat frustration could explain why he’s been attacking Charlotte a lot — but she’s an old lady who just wants to sleep on the sofa. If she cut him up, I’m on Team Charlotte (except for the vet bill).

And there he lies, curled up on his favorite chair, like butter wouldn’t melt in his hissy mouth.

March 28, 2017 — 7:50 pm
Comments: 11

New for 2017!

lambs

Though we’ve seen a few lambs in the villages around, this morning was the first I’d seen in ours. Two little ones on the way in and a bunch more on the way home. It was glorious today. It’s coming, at last!

This is a picture I took years ago, though. Because something else arrived over the weekend: British Summer Time. Our clocks went forward (we’re always later than you) and I hate it and I’m behind on everything.

It’ll be weeks before I stop bitching about the clocks and describing daily events as taking place in either “real time” or “clock time.”

March 27, 2017 — 8:16 pm
Comments: 18

Dead Pool Round 96: New for Summer!

Bikeboy takes it with Chuck Berry. Who has a new album out. Chuck Berry, that is. I don’t even know if Bikeboy plays the oboe.

This was all very unfair on dissent, who had David Rockefeller, who croaked in the interim. And I don’t think either one of them plays the oboe.

Are we ready?

0. Rule Zero (AKA Steve’s Rule): your pick has to be living when picked. Also, nobody whose execution date is circled on the calendar. Also, please don’t kill anybody. Plus (Pupster’s Rule) no picking someone who’s only famous for being the oldest person alive.

1. Pick a celebrity. Any celebrity — though I reserve the right to nix picks I never heard of (I don’t generally follow the Dead Pool threads carefully, so if you’re unsure of your pick, call it to my attention).

2. We start from scratch every time. No matter who you had last time, or who you may have called between rounds, you have to turn up on this very thread and stake your claim.

3. Poaching and other dirty tricks positively encouraged.

4. Your first choice sticks. Don’t just blurt something out, m’kay? Also, make sure you have a correct spelling of your choice somewhere in your comment. These threads get longish and I use search to figure out if we have a winner.

5. It’s up to you to search the thread and make sure your choice is unique. I’m waayyyy too lazy to catch the dupes. Popular picks go fast.

6. The pool stays open until somebody on the list dies. Feel free to jump in any time. Noobs, strangers, drive-bys and one-comment-wonders — all are welcome.

7. If you want your fabulous prize, you have to entrust me with a mailing address. If you’ve won before, send me your address again. I don’t keep good records.

8. The new DeadPool will begin 6pm WBT (Weasel’s Blog Time) the Friday after the last round is concluded.

The winner, if the winner chooses to entrust me with a mailing address, will receive an Official Certificate of Dick Winning and a small original drawing on paper suffused with elephant shit particles. Because I’m fresh out of fairy shit particles.

March 24, 2017 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 107

#HWNDU – a play in four acts

hwndu

Oh dear lord I enjoyed that! Did you enjoy that? I’m quite sure you groovy dudes have been following this thing as closely as I have, but I could do with a recap, as I find the timeline confusing. Herewith:

He Will Not Divide Us was a performance art project dreamed up by child actor Shia Labeouf and professional dim bulb Jaden Smith (who disappeared from the drama quickly). It was launched on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017 and intended to run the full four (sic) years of Trump’s presidency. It was a camera mounted outside the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, into which the general public was invited to stand and chant “he will not divide us” in a not at all creepy and stupid way. This was streamed to the internet live.

General public. Streamed to the internet live, 24/7. What could possibly go wrong?

ACT ONE: New York. And while some people stood in front of the camera performed as expected, the stream almost immediately went to shit. Messages featured a rich assortment of goombahs, hoodrats, generic white males, garden variety trolls and — critically, it would turn out — merry pranksters from 4chan’s /pol/. The stream had an audience and some people got internet famous.

Shia lost his nut, and by Day 6 had been arrested for assaulting a participant (ironically, someone on his side). Day 8, the NYPD erected a wall (I ’bout died of irony poisoning) — one of those crowd barrier things — and Museum staff let people trickle through and say their lines. By February 10, the Museum had had enough and shut it down. Total elapsed time: 21 days.

ACT TWO: New Mexico. Eight days later, it pops up in New Mexico at the El Rey Theater in Albuquerque, along a busy urban street. This time, the performance instantly went to shit. It was taken down again February 23rd after shots were fired in the area. Total elapsed time: 6 days.

ACT THREE: Tennessee. On March 8th, the project was ‘back’ at an ‘undisclosed location.’ This time it had morphed into something entirely different: a livestream of a flag that read HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US. The camera pointed up to the flag in an empty sky.

In less than 48 hours, /pol/ had traced it to a farm in Tennessee. Legend has it, they analyzed times of day, weather patterns, star maps and flight paths, then drove around the general area honking car horns and listening for them on the stream. In truth, they really did those things, but they had a huge leg-up when a fan spotted Labeouf in a diner in Greenville, TN and posted a selfie with him. On March 9, the flag was spotted IRL. Our heroes stole the flag and replaced it with a Pepe shirt and a MAGA hat. Total elapsed time: 2 days.

It gets muddled after that. There were reports of drones flying in the area and somebody accidentally setting fire to a field with a roman candle. There’s a blurry picture said to be a drone shot of Shia guarding the empty flagpole at night armed with a baseball bat. Local police eventually got tired of his calls (!) and shut it down, though what ‘it’ was by that time, who could say?

ACT FOUR: Liverpool. Liverpool? “Events have shown that America is simply not safe enough for this artwork to exist” said Labeouf. Pff! He thinks we don’t have autists in England? The flag was located on the rooftop of FACT UK (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), a five-story building in downtown Liverpool. I have to wonder if anyone warned FACT what was headed their way. Everyone watched the stream and held their breath.

In just over a day — this afternoon — the explorers reached the flag via the building next door. They found it heavily zip-tied to the pole, took some pictures with it and made their escape, but it was only a matter of time.

On police advice, FACT and LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner have removed the installation HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US due to dangerous, illegal trespassing.
Mar. 23, 2017

Total elapsed time: 1 day and a bit.

Is it over? Probably. I hope not. I can’t see anyone willing to host it in a public space. I wonder if Elon Musk would take it up in his rocket ship? And if we would survive what /pol/ did next?

March 23, 2017 — 8:08 pm
Comments: 26

Fog of war

attack

I don’t have any local insights on this one. We are, fortunately, nowhere near Westminster.

The map is making the rounds of Twitter. It supposedly shows people on Al-Jazeera’s Facebook(?) page reacting to the news, but why would it put the laughing faces and thumbs ups dotted around the map like that? That’s not how likes work.

Twitter also was first to report that the shooter was hate preacher Abu Izzadeen (born Trevor Richard Brooks of Jamaican descent in East London) and the first to report that Izzadeen’s lawyer says it can’t be him, he’s in jail. (Sure looks like the guy, though).

So basically all we know is four dead (including the, or a, attacker and a policeman), twenty injured and Twitter is an unreliable narrator.

March 22, 2017 — 8:15 pm
Comments: 13

And two that got away

tamworthtwo

January of 1998, Tamworth pigs were being unloaded at a slaughterhouse in Wiltshire, when two shot off to one side, wriggled through a hole in the fence and escaped into the wild. The Tamworth Two became a sensation. No, really.

It was the most important story of the week – by far […] It had become impossible to avoid the story. A contributor to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day mused over them; the editor of The Independent, Andrew Marr, wrote about them in his letter to the readers. They even featured in an editorial in The Guardian.

Almost 100 reporters from all over the world turned up. The Times got the story going, but the Daily Mail (in true Daily Mail fashion) played it like a fiddle. They put some muscle into it, naming the pigs Butch and Sundance (they were sister and brother, but w/e) and sending their best out pig catching.

The two were located in someone’s back garden after a week of freedom and eventually captured, Sundance first and then Butch. None the worse for wear. The Mail bought them for an undisclosed sum and they lived out their lives in the Ashford Rare Breeds Centre.

Yes, the picture is posed by pig actors. They made a made for TV movie about it.

Turns out one or both of them had a wild boar for a daddy, so there’s that.

So. I do understand this, but I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed to admit I posted a tribute to my dead chicken yesterday and then tucked into a bowl of Chinese chicken and rice. One day, mark my words, I’ll end up a vegetarian. Or dead at the bottom of a huge karma pile.

March 21, 2017 — 8:50 pm
Comments: 15

In Memoriam

violence

Alas, no. Violence didn’t make it through the weekend.

Happy first day of Spring. Let me tell you about Violence Chicken.

Her name was originally Violet, for Violet Trefusis (her nest mate is named Vita). And because she was technically a lavender. Lavender is one of the possible things that happens when you breed black to white; you get a white bird with a distinctly purplish cast. But, to be honest, she was a terrible lavender — basically a white chicken with a bit of dirty yellow (though she looks pretty magnificent here, with the sun behind her lighting up her fine alpha comb).

The year we got her, I was determined to have a gold partridge. So I found a farm that had them, and got one and that’s Vita. But every chicken needs a buddy, so the farmer said, “which one?” and Uncle B said, “oh, how about that little white one?” and the farmer grabbed her and stuck her in his hands. The look on B’s face!

She was the only chicken I’ve ever had that didn’t mind being picked up and cuddled. But that’s not because she was a nice bird. Oh, no. She was filled with rage. Hence Violence. When I opened the henhouse to check on them at night, all the other chickens would be huddled on the perch as far as from her as they could get, because she was a peck beast. When she was in a mood, she wouldn’t just peck at my hand, she’d grab a piece of skin at the web of my thumb and worry it like a terrier.

I have seen that bird run the entire length of the garden just give my foot a good peck, because I guess I needed a pecking. She would stomp her feet in rage until she actually traveled in a small circle. She was my littlest chicken, but (after Lucia) she was bosslady. And how.

We used to amuse ourselves greeting her with, “hello, Violence — have you solved anything?” And, “I’m sorry, Violence, but you are not the answer.” Because we are easily amused.

She will be missed. Though, I suppose the other chickens will sleep easier at night. Seems poetic justice somehow that I got the first egg of the season on the day we buried her in Chicken Cemetery.


And speaking of mortality — DEAD POOL! Bikeboy has won it with Chuck Berry. This was mighty unfair on dissent, who had David Rockefeller. Death can be so cruel. Back here Friday for Dead Pool Round 96!

March 20, 2017 — 7:17 pm
Comments: 16