bastard technology


By | archive, bastard technology, humour


Went to the mall today. Bought some boxer briefs and an Icee. Stopped into the arcade and lost to some punk kid at Street Fighter II. It’s hard for me to push the buttons at the right time. Shuttle Remote Manipulator Prostheses (SRMP) destroyed Street Fighter machine.

Saw a friend’s band play, alone. I wish someone else would have come with me. People don’t always want to talk to the guy with nine hundred pounds of space steel strapped to his body.

Broke the arm of the lead singer when I gave him a high-five.

Laid around with my dog and read while it was raining. Flipped through an H.P. Lovecraft collection. He really isn’t so scary, but his characters have a certain lovable horror that makes them endearing. I like that.

Crushed dog with SRMP.

Jenny’s pool party was almost fun. Massive robotic prostheses scare most women and children. Accidentally pulled power lines into pool. Three dead.

Dropped my coffee mug at the coffee shop. Spilt coffee on SRMP, and short circuited it, starting a small twenty-four hour rampage. Destroyed a city block and beat up old ladies. Also, I set the local orphanage on fire.

Finally passed out at the bar watching VH1 around three in the afternoon. Woke-up with half of a burrito lodged between my robotic tendons, and a face full of dry beer. People were around. It was dark outside.

I reached over and put a quarter in the jukebox, forty-five feet away.

(Note that a semblance of this piece was first concieved by Gene over at Utterwonder)

About genemorgan

Gene Morgan works, writes and lives in Houston, Texas. Home of Beyoncé.


By | archive, bastard technology, humour


Beer brewing is as much an art as a science. Finding the right blend of delicate grains, hops, malt, adding just the right flavoring agents, boiling for exactly enough time to release the tannins, starches, humic acids from you wort, these are all skills that take a lifetime to master. Perfect beer is meticulously planned and carefully crafted.

Screw that.

You’re six days into a 2 month expedition, and if you were lucky enough to not be on a dry ship, it’s de facto dry by now anyway. You’re eying the ethanol stores, the crew is eying each other, and all hell will break loose if y’all don’t get some sweet water soon. This is no time for artistry.

This is not, as a rule, a terribly good beer (though, with a good brewmaster on board, it can be). This is a beer to pass the time. I can guarantee that if you are careful, it will be at least as good as the cheapest commercial alternative.


The tools you need are simple: an electric drip coffee maker with hot plate, a coffee filter, 2 1-liter sample jars, 2 handkerchiefs, 2 rubber bands, and a source of clean (preferably R/O) water.

You’ll have to be more creative with your ingredients. What you need are some sort of grain, some malt, and, if possible, something that can act as a clarifying and hopping agent. You need a simple grain to release the tannins, starches, and enzymes. The best bet is common cereals – Raisin Bran, Cracked Wheat, Kashi, whatever you can find. The fruit and nuts will add flavor, but are not important.

Malt is tricky, and sometimes gross. In my experience, the best you can hope for is vegemite, marmite, or some other yeast extract. If you have chocolate malt balls or some other malt based candy, those can be ground up and used as well.

The hops are the hardest, and you may have to forgo their goodness. Alfalfa or some other green roughage may work, but a clever biologist will bring their own hops on board.

Finally, you’ll need to find some yeast. Most ships will have bakers’ yeast. If you’re very lucky they might have brewers’ yeast.


Sanitation is key. If you have an autoclave, sterilize your tools ahead of time. Otherwise, wash everything with an iodine solution or, if there are no other options, ethanol. Contamination is your enemy. Everything must be clean.

1. Grind up your ‘grains’ (but not so much that it becomes powder).

2. Place your ‘grains’ in coffee pot (not the filter basket, the carafe).

3. Run 2 cups of clean water through coffee maker and let it sit on the hot plate for an hour. This releases all the good chemicals from you ‘grains’ and creates a fluid called wort.

4. Strain the wort through the coffee filter and place the filter full of ‘grain’ into the filter basket. Add the ‘malt’ to the filter basket. Pour the strained liquid back into coffee maker and add 1 cup of water.

5. Run the wort through the coffee maker 5 times, each time adding 1 cup of water.

6. Pour the wort into the saucepan and boil for 45 minutes. Two minutes before boiling is done, add the hops.

7. Carefully pour the wort into the canning jars.

8. Let the wort cool to between 60 and 70 F. Once it is cool enough to touch the outside of the jars without burning, pitched the Bakers’ Yeast into the mixture.

9. Seal jar with a handkerchief and rubber band over the mouth.

10. Store in a cool, dark place where it will not be disturbed for a week.


A cool, smooth brew, flavored with whatever you found. It may be very bad, it may be good. It will be beer.

You are now the most popular person on the boat. Enjoy.


Please note – these methods can be adapted to any lab or field work that demands it. The modestly sized oceanographic research vessel is not mandatory.

I, in no way, endorse the consumption or manufacture of alcoholic beverages on dry or alchohol free research vessels, nor do we condone the manufacture of beer by the underage. Drink responsibly or don’t drink at all.

Update: Several people have complained about my casually switching between metric and standard units (liters to cups). Mark my words, there is nothing casual about it. If you’re on a research vessel, chances are all your sample containers will be metric, but your coffee maker (at least if you’re an American) will use cups as the units. I have saved you the odious task of converting between the two. You’re welcome.

About Andrew Thaler

Andrew Thaler is a graduate student studying deep-sea biology. When not in the lab, he spends his time out on the water, usually swearing at his boat while simultaneously sacrificing some important tool to Poseidon in a desperate attempt make the motor start. He is also a recreational beer brewer, and these two hobbies have melded together to create this handy guide for when emergency rations run out. He writes at and can be reached by e-mail at


By | archive, bastard technology

I’m no expert, but even I can see that from the moment you get up in the morning until the moment you nod off to sleep at night, science plays a huge part in your daily life.

What’s the first thing that happens to you every day? You’re jolted awake by the alarm on your clock radio, right? The digital display, the jarring _buzz_…that’s science. Even if you’ve set the controls so that you’re woken up by a soothing song on the radio, how do you think that song reaches you? Through radio waves (discovered by scientists) transmitted from broadcast towers (designed by scientists). Even the DJs at the radio station are hitting all kinds of colorful buttons and knobs and levers, just like scientists are known to.

Anyway, now that you’re up, what’s for breakfast? Toast, of course. And just what do you think transforms that bland slice of bread into your delicious morning toast? Science again, this time in the guise of your harmless looking toaster.

Is it beginning to dawn on you yet? Science is everywhere. It’s inescapable.

It’s with you as you iron your pants for work, as you run the electric razor over your face, as you slip in your contacts. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s even some complicated scientific term to describe the way water comes out of your shower head — The Cascade Effect or osmosis or something.

Now that your morning routine is over, it’s time to head off to work…but don’t assume you’re leaving science behind. No, it’s right there with you during your commute, in the form of the internal combustion engine and intermittent wipers and traffic lights that direct your every move because you, me, all of us, we’re just lowly animals compared to this omnipotent god science. And a lot of these traffic lights nowadays come equipped with spy cameras, letting them see the expression on your face as you pass by, so you’d better put on a fake smile and pretend nothing is wrong, even though everything you see around you says otherwise.

And then there’s the office itself: computers and faxes and copiers, and even the clunky old vending machine in the break room surely works on one form of mechanical principle or another. Also, hasn’t it short-changed you on occasion?

But wait. Maybe everything isn’t as bad as it seems. Your co-workers have gotten you a birthday card. Maybe for just a few minutes you can put all these disturbing thoughts out of your head. But what’s this? When you open the card, it spits a silly little tune right in your face. Even here, in the kindest and most basic of gestures…science. What can you do except put on that fake smile again and pretend nothing is wrong even as you run out of the office screaming?

But is there any relief when you get home? Don’t count on it. You have to microwave your dinner and put clothes in the washer, and even if you successfully avoid the TV and cell phone and Electronic Battleship and retreat to the safety of a simple book, a western, set back in the good old days before science was everywhere, even here the bad guys are shooting at the good guys with bullets fired from a six-shooter through the science of centrifugal force or something.

So, now that I’ve opened your eyes, you can finally understand how hopeless the situation is. What’s that, you say? You can always flee to the mountains and build a log cabin? No working technology, not even running water? You’ve done it? You’ve escaped?

Not a chance.

While you’re out chopping wood, a jet flies high overhead. It’s science, smugly looking down at you and laughing because it knows it’s smarter than you, more powerful, better looking, superior in every conceivable way. And all you can do is put on that fake smile of yours one last time and pretend that nothing is wrong and calmly throw yourself off the nearest cliff in what scientists would call Einstein’s First Law of Thermodynamics, or something.

About ralphgamelli

Ralph Gamelli attempts to write stuff that, under certain conditions, in just the right light, with a good song playing in the background, might possibly be considered somewhat funny.


By | archive, bastard technology, humour

Mission Statement, 2007

“At Intelligent Design Biotech Corporation, we work around his watchmaker’s clock to pursue biotech solutions to those improbable imperfections of his work here on earth.”

- – -

Okay all IDBC Employees:

Let’s go let’s go let’s go. IDBC is finally on its legs. We’re trained, we’re hyped, we’ve got that sharp-eyed Focus on the Family Approved ID curriculum. We’re big time primed to speak for and as God. So let’s make it happen, show those soon Left Behind what education is all about. God up people, let’s go, God up.

As you know, we’ve got work stations for everyone. God-stations, more or less. So we better all of us get acquainted with the guys we brought on board for this venture. From the front, then, a quick review of the acolytes at the top. If you will. And so on and so forth.

Mark will be up front, persuasively deep in analysis. He’s already one of our finest biochemists, a high level amino-proselytizer. Master of the grant proposal. He’s isolating a therapeutic from tissue obtained from our most devout. It’s blasphemously technical, true, but we believe in results people. Results. We’re gonna be using an Acts 2:17 protocol, and if it’s slow going, we’ve got like 6 kegs of Holy Water in the back. You never know with these things, is our point.

Behind Mark is John. He’s new too, but just as amped up and highly touted. He’s organizing our human cloning project. Not for the faint of heart. Or public release. Keep a lid on it for now, ‘kay? John was telling me before, this thing about how human cloning is somatic cell something nuclear transfer, which, I don’t know what it means, but he was real confident when he said it. It’s like, it’s when what the heathens call “DNA”–secular speak for the watermark of God–is taken from human tissue–secular speak for the Kleenex of God–injected into an empty egg cell, and then into a host mother’s uterus. Jeepers, right? I mean, and it only gets more complicated after that. All I’m saying is if you want to know more, just open your pocket King James to that long boring part in the middle. It’s basically all there.

I know, you’re thinking maybe it’s a bit too resurrection-like. But in the face of God, lo, and we are fearless, or something like that. It’s in Revelation, no? You gotta know that any human clones we get out of this won’t technically be the same individual, even if genetically identical. They still grow and age; still have their own experiences and memories, their own Church Camp hook-ups. I mean, Cain and Abel were different? You feel me? So let’s us rest assured–and we have to make this point clear to the biblico-investors–making a clone of the deceased is, in our faith-based opinion, not at all like resurrection. (Though, we were riffing in the break room, me and Damian–it might make a pretty good practical joke. You know, “SURPRISE! I bet you thought I was dead!” That would be funny. Jesus loved jokes. On a more serious note, though, this is why we’ll have a Pastor on staff 24/7.)

Okay. Luke is our creative one. Curly hair, has those denim shorts, still drives a Chevy. He’ll be leading our third start-up project. Yep, he’s the microscope guy you prayed for. We all read about that “Face of Jesus” he found on a mammary tissue slide. It’s hands down miraculous! For us, it means the product line opportunities coming from Luke’s station are endless. Beaucoup evangi-customers. I just made that up, you like that? Evangel-customers, evangi-cust, evangelimers. I’ll work on it. Anywho. We’re not talking Virgin Mary potato chips or grilled cheese Messiahs or shower door stains looking like Moses parting the Red Sea. We’ve got high quality techno-theistic stuff, the kind you’re not gonna get from those Fortune 500 secular humanist labs. Oh, and we’ve got that shipment of myrrh stain arriving from the Kansas office to help clarify these images.

At the back here is Matthew. His workbench’s kind of set away–say what up Matthew!–but he is probably our best shot for some buzz from the PTL Weekly Business Report. Matthew’s working on our B.M.L.G. gene therapy initiative. This one changes a guy’s genetic code, so that he or she–”he” mostly, let’s be real here–can actually “Be More Like God.” Marketing guys coined that. Pretty sweet, eh? In truth, our Numbers guys are saying this’ll be our most popular service. Lord knows the fourth-quarter projections put it at 37% of gross revenue. We’re giving our clients the option to be all knowing, to be all powerful, to alter reality, create essences, and all that crap. Cha-ching.

It’s true, yes, in the beta testing we only put out some minor God-like emulations. By playing with testosterone levels, more or less, fidgeting with the patriarchy, if you will. Made real progress with anger-creation, deeper booming voices, all that lush facial hair. So yeah we’re not starting floods or locust swarms or winning playoff games or that jazz, but our clients can at least look and sound good trying.

Anyway, that oughta bring y’all up to speed. I’m serious, and this isn’t just me saying, this is the entire Board and all the investors and Gideon’s, Inc. and on, we have a golden opportunity here. A cash cow. Me, and we, just wanna say how very excited we are about the entire lab and all our potential. Dogma will pay the bills, God willing.

Now let’s be safe out there. And an Amen to that.

About Benjamin Cohen and David Ng

B.R. Cohen is a professor, a writer, and a guy who used to blog with Dave Ng. He teaches at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. Dave Ng is a guy who used to blog with B.R. Cohen. He runs a science literacy lab at the University of British Columbia, and would like to invite you to participate in research that looks at the sweet spot where science and creativity meet.


By | archive, bastard technology, humour

Last last Tuesday, a successful Grand Unification Theory (GUT) was accidentally found by a Mrs Eldersby of 29 Pennyfarthing Lane, London. Despite her having no formal training in any science discipline, and the fact that the solution was arrived upon by a series of highly unscientific events, the Eldersby Model – as it is being called – has attracted much media and academic attention.

In what experts claim is the first ever Proof by Accident, Eldersby laid down the basic Mathematical principles of what appears to be a successful unified field theory while attempting to medicate her cat and bake biscuits simultaneously.

“I had just started to bake some biscuits to take to the Friendship Group that night when I remembered that I hadn’t given Mr Fluffy his worm medicine,” said Mrs Eldersby in an official statement to the press. “We were celebrating Magerie’s 80th Birthday so I had lots of biscuits to bake urgently.”

The statement then detailed the exact nature of the proposed gathering, the finer details of those attending and some attached notes on Mrs Christy’s on-going hip trouble and officially classified her as a “poor dear.”

Professor Blaire of the Imperial College London’s Physics department claims that during the struggle to measure a dosage based on Mr Fluffy’s body weight and simultaneously bake a one-and-three-quarters batch of her famous blueberry biscuit recipe, Mrs Eldersby inadvertently stumbled across a flawless analogy for unifying the electroweak force with quantum chromodynamics.

And as a fellow member of the Friendship Group, he was also qualified to claim that the biscuits were “most scrumptious.” [F.G. Minutes, Prof. Blaire et al.]

The Eldersby Model solves a problem that modern Physicists have only been able to suggest possible, incomplete solutions to. But now that the proof has been found, Physicists around the world are experiencing the mixed feelings of relief that it has been solved and frustration over having not seen for themselves what is now obvious.

“Why I never worked out the mechanics of how cosmic strings can be carefully folded into the 29th dimension until light and creamy is beyond me,” lamented emanate physicist and mathematician Professor Hawking. “And holding the X boson by the scruff of the neck for Dimension 6 proton decay now seems painfully obvious.”

Mrs Eldersby put current scientists’ inability to complete a GUT down to the education system and how “they make exams too easy these days.” She then went on to mutter something about “not being surprised” young people couldn’t think because of excessive loud music, “they’re not even singing, it’s just lots of shouting.”

Despite much interest from several renowned Universities, Mrs Eldersby has declared she will not be pursuing a academic career. Although rumour has it that her work on folding fitted sheets has made some new inroads into the Reimann Hypothesis. “It’s all about examining how the folding lines the elastic up perfectly” she claims.

About mattparker

Matt Parker is an Australian Maths teacher lost in London. He can`t believe he now gets paid to run exciting Maths and Physics support activities for schools. Matt`s bank-card PIN is a base ten undulating number. He probably shouldn’t have just told you that.