Solar Voodoo: Burnt Offerings to the Sun

In 2017 the Solar Orbiter will be sent to stare directly at the sun, proving that nothing is dumb if you’re smart enough. We’re throwing an outer space gris-gris of space age titanium and burnt bone at the source of all life. We’re rocket shamans.

The shaman cyborg material is in the heat shield: titanium with its surface oxide layer blasted off to be replaced with black calcium phosphate. Aka bone char. The burnt bones of animals. You might think the heat shield should be shiny but in space the big problem isn’t staying warm, it’s keeping cool. There’s no material around you to conduct or convect heat, only space (hence the nam). Insulate yourself and you’ll bake long before you eventually freeze. Which will only happen because you’ve stopped generating heat, caring about temperature, and breathing. Since the Solar Orbiter’s systems generate their own heat it’s more important that they be able to radiate than reflect.

The surface coating isn’t paint: the black calcium phosphate takes the oxide’s place in chemical bonds, creating an armor of dead metal material to stand up against the source of all life. The burnt bone skin is made by Irish company Enbio and is rather brilliantly (and exactly oppositely to brilliantly) called “SolarBlack“.

We’re reducing the sun’s bounty to burnt ash and offering it back to learn more about existence. It’s a scientific sacrament. And will work a lot better than burning good animals for greek gods. Who are good model here, because we’re tackling Apollo like ancient heroes: pitting everything we’ve ever learned (from cave paint to aviation metallurgy) against an awesome power in the heavens.

We’re studying the Alpha and Omega, the source of all life, the shining light in the sky which gathered up our land and sea, which stirred the soup until it started moving around by itself, and even now bathes it with warmth and every way of surviving. Every movement you’ve ever made, every thought you’ve ever had, the creator is there. Because the adenosine triphosphate bonds you’re breaking to exist were all made with solar energy. Which is also the inevitable end of our world. When it swells up red-faced, like a middle-aged Zeus, it will burn our Earth bare of anything even approximating life.

Art often envisages a god as shafts of sunlight, or a blazing ball in the sky, and it turns out the metaphor wasn’t wrong, it was revesed. The sun doesn’t describe a creator. The creator is a description of the Sun.

I love the combination of space-age and cave-age technology. Because they’re both still technology. And they both still work. Sticks still work, and no matter how advanced your iPhone it won’t help when you need to prod something. There are doubtless other ways to make black calcium phosphate, but it’s still best to let something else do most of the work. Biological organisms are still the masters of nanofabrication. Just think of it as an extreme form of smelting.

And I love the idea that the mission to our big star will sit on the outer-space menu with another little star beside it.

Solar Orbiter(*) 1 billion

*This item is not vegetarian.

Space is the Place with

Bank of Ireland Offers To Pay Nation’s Water Charges

Bank of Ireland today announced that it would like to pay the nation’s water charges. “Fundamental utilities required to maintain society are the whole point of tax, ” started the press release, “So we’re starting to feel sort of bad about taking it all during the bailout. We’d like to give something back. From executives being paid for screwing up, to people people who need to drink water to stay alive.”

“It’s not that we’re not grateful,” said spokesperson Eoin O’Lot at a press conference. “It’s just that, well, you know when you get a gift that’s just too much? And it makes you embarrassed? Well, imagine the government giving you three and a half billion euro as a reward for shitting every bed in the country, and then charging the people with nowhere to sleep for the water to wash the sheets. We managed to push through our shame back when we got the money, but we’d have to be some sort of artificial robot replacement for a lizard person pretending to be a sociopath to keep acting that way now.”

Every computer connected to the internet emitted a slight draught as Apple, Google, Twitter, facebook, Adobe, Microsoft, Starbucks, Yahoo!, General Electric, IBM, Pfizer Inc, and many more multi-billion dollar companies currently using Ireland to dodge the shit out of tax sighed in relief simultaneously. “That was a close one”, an executive was overheard to say, while waiting for the waiter to get back with some proper champagne. “Good thing they decided to extort their own citizens for the most fundamental necessity of life instead.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny responded to repeated queries of “What the fuck have you been doing with all the tax money all this time if you can’t even keep the taps on?” by shrugging and miming hearing difficulties.

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The Voodoo Pen

The pen is a voodoo pin. It allows people to incant their fears and suffering into the world, unleashing their inner demons, binding them onto a page, and sending them off to bother other people.

That’s why we can read about so many older men suddenly throwing away their older lives for thrills and adventure (“can”, not “should”). So many writers writing about writers thinking about writing, living in worlds where exciting things come from the world into them instead of the other way round, so many badass unstoppable supercool rogues who were hated and feared instead of the truly terrifying fate of not being noticed.

Worries? Fears? Give them to someone else! Create a golem to fill with everything you don’t want in your own head and send them shambling off. The only difference is the amount of writing: not just a few symbols on their forehead, you have to write their forehead (furrowed), the rest of their head, their body, the lot.

Of course, voodoo and monsters are guaranteed to turn back on their creators. That’s what they do.

Using your own experience is a great way to give your characters depth, but you have to use the technique properly. You can’t just vomit your current thoughts directly onto the page. People don’t like picking through someone else’s vomit: it’s unpleasant, it’s mostly unprocessed, and most damningly of all it’s someone else’s problem. You have to choke down your own issues and process them. This process will reveal that the bulk of it turns to shit, but bits will be extracted, integrated, added to your sum total and become something you can usefully use.

At which point you could no more take them out of yourself than you could give your character your toes. Instead you have to climb into their head and steer them yourself.

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Z-Girl versus the Quantum Shampoo

Just another glorious day in the fortress. Calling your house a fortress promotes the right attitude towards laying in supplies, expeditions into the outside world, and dealing with unwanted invaders at the door. Dropping pots of boiling oil causes more interruptions than it solves, we’ve found, but an attitude brimming with bubbling pitch is much less actionable than a cauldron. And almost as effective.

G-girl and I were feeling pretty chill, so coddled by technology I could take the time to worry about using “I” instead of “me” back there instead of worrying about food or shelter, when the newshriek destroyed all feelings of security. That’s the newshriek’s job. Writing your fears on an infographic blackboard and dragging its manicured fingernails down them with a smile. And now the weather.

Weather: climate change flooding and drought we can’t even average out our environmental disasters no no we get both extremes and we’re all going to die, but you first.

Now messages from our sponsors.

The airbrushed holo stalks around the house looking for something to advertise. But since Tau-girl screwed its sensors all the shriek sees is the inside of a Sealand sex derrick, so the ‘rithm goes into that blank face they have instead of negative emotions. If you exist outside the target markets, you don’t exist at all. And people say advertising isn’t honest.

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I grew up poking at BASIC, so I know X is the ultimate variable. The automatic anything. It marks the spot on every imaginable map, the treasure inconstant but always available. Sure, we’d loop around i’s, and be induced to iterate n, but back in those childish days before it was definitely horizontal, our x could be anything.

Now its function, for x ample, is to defend me from the entire internet.

The internet! The greatest research tool ever assembled and one you absolutely must not use it when writing. Use it when researching. Use it when scribbling and plotting. But when you’re writing it’s all too eager to ask you to come into its parlour, said the spider to the idiot who should be writing. It doesn’t matter what you think you need to check: that factoid is the fresh chunk of cheese in a mousetrap that will chop an entire hour off your life.

Which is when X’s variable powers save me.

X has saved me XOUSANDS of times, over XAYS, XONTHs, ever since XEAR. I don’t have to look up XAME or their XADDRESS or spoken XANGUAGE. I can’t count the XILLIONS of unwasted hours saved by blasting right through momentary fragments of fact instead of surrendering the momentum of movement for a few seconds of flicking around the internet. Eight points in Scrabble and even more valuable in other word work. Never stop writing. The facts and figures will still be there when your head is broken, your hours are aching, and you’re editing a piece instead of invoking it. Cross out the unknown and just keep going.

Thank you, X.

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Total Psychopath Holding On To Red Shells in Eleventh Place

(Source: Nintendo)

(Source: Nintendo)

Police have been alerted to a dangerous individual holding on to three red shells despite being in eleventh place. The lunatic was last seen rounding the baggage claim in Sunshine Airport, and should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

“The psycho’s just holding them!” according to our source in twelfth place. Who was quick to add that their current position was only due to a blue shell, a star, and a sequence of other drivers who can only be described as “every male offspring Canis Lupus ever produced”.

The demented driver shows no sign of improving their position by firing the red shells, instead seeming content to sit there defending the second worst position possible in the game. Our source further opined that this is the sort of person who would end up stabbing someone over a parking space and clearly needs to be bloody watched.

UPDATE: Police have been dispatched to arrest the driver on reports that they actually fired all three red shells backwards, and are therefore “at least a serial killer”.

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Irish People Protest Foreign Minorities Receiving Money, Apparently Not Joking

Recent weeks have seen Waterford mobs campaigning against minority groups receiving welfare funding. They demand that the small, vulnerable group leave before they cause problems for the larger community, and are apparently completely serious despite part of Ireland in the European Union.

Ireland, which has received tens of billions of euros in funding from the EU in recent decade — funding provided from richer countries with the express intent of raising Irish living conditions to what the rest of the EU views as minimum standards — is now facing problems with gobshites think they have half a leg to stand on when telling anyone else to do anything.

Some of the stupider Irish — and we’re not talking “not that bright”, we’re talking more “accidentally chew through their tongue if forced to attempt a crossword” — believe that fellow Europeans are somehow incapable of earning or keeping money. Possibly unaware that it’s only four years since Ireland had to beg Europe for an emergency 67.5 billion euro bailout for just fucking things up altogether. Probably incapable of counting to four.

Many Romanis have come to Ireland to seek a better life and escaping crushing poverty in their home country. Several Irish people protesting against this could not be reached for comment, as their utter ignorance of their own people’s history of emigration caused them to vanish from the timestream. Making the world a better place.

“We don’t want them round here!” said Paddy O’Ballface, a thirtysomething nobody who has never even heard of the times Irish people were forced to travel across the American continent for back-breaking third-class labor. He has never felt any prejudice. He has never been more than four miles from his home. He is rarely found than four meters from his couch.

The situation was escalated by Sinn Féin councillor John Hearne, who made comments accusing Roma people of theft, violent attacks with swords, and grooming his friends’ children with cocaine, and none of those are jokes for this article, those are all things he really said. You’d really think things like that would lead to arrests instead of a facebook posts. It’s almost like he’s an incendiary prat whose lips are visibly moving as he paws through “Rabble Rousing for Dummies”.

A number of people have agreed with the Sinn Féin councilor, apparently failing to realize what that status really says about them. “We’re not a violent, racist, sectarian mob of thugs!”, they cry. “We’re just attacking people in accordance with the statements of Sinn Féin members. History will surely confirm that only good guys do that.”

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Next GTA Game To Feature Incredibly Realistic Graphics of Racism, Sexism

The next Grand Theft Auto will continue the series’ trend of crafting incredibly realistic game worlds by including racism and sexism.

“In most games character creation is just a cosmetic tool,” explained lead developer Al Abaster. “They completely ignore how much your appearance affects your progress in the real world.”

With the updated Real World (TM) mechanics, choosing any race other than white will increase police sensitivity by several hundred percent. In past games your police alert level was limited to crimes you’d actually committed. “We felt this was unrealistic”, said Al. “Now black players will start with the police permanently at one star, raising to two or three should they do anything suspicious like running or standing still.”

Selecting any gender other than male reduces the cash rewards for completed tasks by 70%. Also, in the game’s new leveling system, the player will frequently fail to increase a rank even when they’ve collected sufficient XP. Seventeen new sound channels have been added to play the cat-calls and unwanted advances players will hear at all times when playing as women, including during cut-scenes and mission-critical information.

“Games are chasing realism”, said Al. “There’s nothing people want more than for our fantastic vistas of freedom imagination to more closely mirror our shitty reality. So now it’s time for gamers to face the problems of the Real World (TM).”

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