I often wonder, in idle moments, how we might talk to aliens if they turned up suddenly. The problem is that aliens are – well, alien. Picture the scene: Aliens turn up. Their language, to our ears, has just one word, ‘blubbleblop’. Nobody realises they communicate by eye movement and the sound is a product … More Will we ever understand aliens?
It had to be 1 April, of course. Naturally. On a dark country back-road with no other witnesses, the sort of place with permanent rain that private detectives in Borsalino fedoras and trench coats haunt for no better reason than that it looks good to be there. It felt like a Friday night, the sort … More My close encounter of the hard boiled kind
Here’s a conundrum for you. Back in 1860, Austrian artist Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793-1865) worked up this little scene. A woman, walking along in a pose very familiar to us today, is about to be confronted by a suitor bearing a flower. The painting was titled ‘Die Erwartete’ (‘The Expected’). So was Herr Waldmüller a … More Why yes, it’s proof of time travel, or not
Today I thought I’d examine a couple of hyperbolic metaphors on the basis of their being literally true and see where that got me, scientifically. I mean, what is a hyperbolic metaphor worth if science can’t say something about it, really? Check this out. ‘Enough food to sink a battleship’ How much food would sink … More If hyperbolic metaphors were true…
I am a great enthusiast for found humour. You know – stuff in everyday life that’s a complete crack-up. The highlight the other week, for me, was a menu featuring ‘Goujons of Fish’, which had all sorts of possibilities. ‘Goujon’. A cool word, and so bursting with potential for scurrilous-sounding meanings. Say it slowly. ‘Goujon.’ … More On the wonders of found humour and fish goujons
I’ve had some ideas lately for some really great inventions… The Pinwheel. Applies to any modern twin-jet. Instead of hanging the two engines as close to the fuselage as possible, why not stick them on the wingtips? It’ll be quieter for passengers and – even better – the engines can act as an anti-flutter weight. … More My latest inventions – what could POSSIBLY go wrong?
I’ve found a way to save hours on housework. These methods are so good I don’t know why everybody doesn’t just use them. Microwave oven. Surprisingly, these need cleaning. The best way to do it is by chucking a bar of tallow-based soap into the unit and turning it on for three minutes. The soap … More Handy household cleaning hacks, part 892
Being summer and all that in the southern hemisphere I figured I should finish up the year with a small homage to summer clothes, Kiwi bloke style. Disclaimer: I have none of these in my own wardrobe. 1. Walk shorts. Style: Short trousers for men, same style as a business suit but stopping mid-thigh. Accompanied … More Summer sartorialism, Kiwi style
I use a lot of words in my books. Most of them are words such as ‘and’, ‘it’, ‘the’ and so on. But every so often I try to stretch that vocabulary a bit. Here’s a list of words I’d like to use in future, ideally in the same sentence or two: adiabatic (I might … More Words I want to use in my books
For your amusement, here’s a post I wrote in 2012 (enter TARDIS sound…) +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I don’t know why the seventh planet out from the Sun is the butt of so many jokes. Well, I do. and it’s lame, lame, lame. So today I’m going to get to the bottom of it, as it were. More … More Why the name of the seventh planet is funny – redux