What 100 year flood means

“And this is where you first start getting a sense that maybe engineering hydrology isn’t the most exact of sciences. …none of the Imperial units for these values agree, but if you do the math, the conversion factor is just about one, so we ignore it. We just leave it off! This is not something we take out to the fifth decimal place.”

British Museum Iron Age virtual exhibit

Heather writes:

One of my web design e-newsletters had a link to the indoors Google Street View of the British Museum. So I wandered around a bit and found this… Celtic Life in Iron Age Britain: A British Museum exhibition of Iron Age objects from collections across the UK.

London underground. No, not that one.

New Statesman:

How many of these once perfectly functioning and possibly still serviceable diggers are petrified underneath central London, like those Romans preserved cowering in the corners of houses in Pompeii? Estimates vary. One property developer I asked reckoned at least 1,000; another put the figure at more like 500.


London is thus becoming a machine cemetery, with upwards of £5 million worth of excavators now lying in state beneath the houses of the 1%. Like tools invented by M.C. Escher, these sacrificial JCB*s have excavated the very holes they are then ritually entombed within, turning the city into a Celtic barrow for an age of heroic machinery.

I suppose this is all very well and good until somebody blunders into a plague pit.

*A “JCB” is what a Briton calls an excavator made by Lord Joseph Cyril Bamburg, CBE.

The White Tower

The header today is a panoramic view of the Tower of London, taken by #1 son. This is only part of that panorama – the whole thing can’t really be made to fit WordPress’s header aspect.

When I was younger I had a mental image of the Tower as something resembling a chess rook, with the heads of traitors on spikes over the portcullis and shivering naked miscreants suspended in cages from the walls.

Even though I’ve known for decades that my vision of William the Conqueror’s citadel was totally wrong (well, except the heads and cages part) I was unprepared for the sheer size and magnificence of this fortress. I wish we’d had more time to explore, and I hope we can go back some day.

Internet soft spots

Want to build a ginormous botnet without doing a lot of work? Compromise one of the Internet’s soft spots.

If you take over bOINGbOING.net, you can use the site to inject malware in 1.3 million visitors. Chump change! How about TheChive.com, or Kottke.org, or whatever? Face it, you’re not going to get more than 15 million suckers. It’s just too much effort for a lazy man; you’d still be doing a lot of hard work to recruit a paltry few million zombies.

So, you take over jquery.com, or typekit.com. Now you’re cooking with gas! It’s become common practice for websites to use remotely sourced scripts – so there are thousands of sites that will blindly push out whatever is in the file jquery.js at jquery.com, and all that site’s visitors will run it just as blindly. So if you take over a popular script or advertisement source, you can leverage that into billions of individual attacks, quite easily.

And that’s my Halloween horror story for this year.