Welcome to Hell!

Not much in the way of shorter posts tonight, after the marathon effort of preparing the Weekend Wings article. For a laugh, here’s Rowan Atkinson doing his inimitable comedic thing with the Underworld. (Note to those of a highly prim and proper religious persuasion: you might want to skip this one!) And after that, there’s really only one emoticon I can possibly use, isn’t there? Peter

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Weekend Wings #37: The F-111 Aardvark, Part 1

On December 3rd, 2010, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will officially retire its remaining General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark strike aircraft. The date will mark the end of more than four decades of service for this remarkable plane. The F-111’s story is so complex that we can’t possibly do it justice in a single Weekend Wings article. I’ll therefore break the story into two parts. This article will examine the genesis of the program, and focus on the new and complex technologies that went into it. The second instalment, next weekend, will discuss the aircraft’s development and operational career, and

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World’s most expensive bottle of tequila?

There’s a new entry in the conspicuous consumption sweepstakes. The Daily Mail reports: A Mexican distiller has produced what it hopes will become the world’s most expensive tequila in a platinum and diamond-studded bottle. Hacienda La Capilla‘s ‘The Diamond Sterling’ comes in a 1.3-litre ceramic bottle coated in more than 5lbs of platinum. But that’s not all: the bottle is encrusted in more than 4,000 diamonds, totalling 328 carats. The bottle is crafted by renowned designer Fernando Altamirano and is valued at around $3.5million. The liquor inside is not half bad either: a rich seven-year aged tequila straight from the

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I want one!

I’m intrigued by a British company that’s offering waterborne offices for use in marinas, on riverfronts, etc. They’re not powered watercraft, but appear to be basically barges with a modern lightweight superstructure. They seem to be as well equipped as any small business office. The company’s presently designing a studio apartment using the same basic hull. If it’s equipped to the same level as their offices, it should make a great place for a weekend getaway to a marina or river. A single person might even live there full-time, albeit without too much space to expand or throw a party

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Nature in the raw

There have been many spectacular photographs of the eruption earlier this year of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. The Telegraph newspaper in England has published several collections of them. I’ve put up one picture out of each collection to show you how good they are, and linked each picture to the collection it came from. Click any picture to see the rest of the images in that collection. Another superb collection (some of which are duplicated in the Telegraph’s collections above) is by Icelandic photographer Ragnar Sigurdsson, who (with co-author Ari Gudmundsson) has published a best-selling book of his images

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Doofus Of The Day #418

Today’s award goes to the collective lawyers of the Church of England. Two million husbands and wives are not lawfully married because of a Church of England blunder, it was revealed yesterday. Their church weddings are legally invalid because the vicars who married them used the wrong form of words, CofE lawyers admitted. The error affects more than a million weddings celebrated over the past 30 years in churches across England. It opens the prospect that marriage partners heading for divorce may try to deny their spouse maintenance, support or even a home on the grounds that they were never

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Astrology debunked

A few days ago I wrote about the Forer effect and ‘subjective validation’. In the cited article, reference was made to ‘a mishmash of lines from horoscopes’ collected for the experiment. This led one reader to chide me via e-mail for being ‘negative’ about astrology, and ask me to ‘correct’ that misperception. I’m afraid I can’t correct it. I’m very negative about astrology! I regard astrologers as charlatans, and those who believe in their predictions as – at best – over-credulous and deluded. I know there are those who will disagree with me (and still others who’ll claim that any

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Happiness is . . . a partner?

A study printed in the American Psychological Association’s journal suggests that individual happiness isn’t necessarily so ‘individual’ after all. MSNBC reports: According to a study in the latest issue of the American Psychological Association’s journal Developmental Psychology, a person’s individual happiness is closely tied with that of their spouse — at least when it comes to long-term married couples. “What we saw over a long period of time is that if one spouse changed in terms of increasing happiness, the other spouse’s happiness would go up,” says Christiane Hoppmann, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and lead

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