Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Say Hello to the Goodbye Gun

Douglas Adams invented a point of view gun for the film of A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It caused your target to see the world from your perspective and it was the only funny thing in that dreadful movie. Now, it seems, we have a non-lethal weapon that gives you an overwhelming urge to say goodbye. Known as the Active Denial System, it is a beam that causes agonising burning pain accompanied by, unsurprisingly a sudden desire to run away or, as it were, say goodbye. I think I was being used as a test subject at a dinner last night. The curious thing about non-lethal weapons is they have to undergo extensive safety tests; your victim, after all, might sue. They can also produce amusingly unexpected results - 'Tasers can become dangerous if they are used on subjects who have previously been doused with flammable pepper spray.' (And, they might add, subsequently hit by a plastic bullet while being deafened by a rape alarm.) In the case of the Goodbye Gun, testing seems to have been one long comedy routine with subjects being given vodka to see if it helped them endure the pain. The good news is that wrapping yourself in layers of tinfoil like a turkey would provide some protection. All of which made me nostalgic for good, old-fashioned weapons like nukes, which, it seems, Tony Blair, sentimental old fool that he is, has decided to keep.


  1. Tony Blair's decision to retain a nuclear deterrent is a rare demonstration of wisdom on his part.

    Military planning requires that you anticipate your defence needs in 20 and 30 years' time, not make the assumption that your future threats will resemble your current threats. 20 years ago we decided we needed the Eurofighter under the assumption that the Cold War would persist into the early 21st century. The people who currently argue that we should abandon our nuclear deterrent, and concentrate on the asymmetric warfare against terrorists and insurgents, are making the same error of assuming the future will be like the present. In 20/30 years' time, it is more than likely that China will be a hugely aggressive world superpower, and we will very much need our nuclear deterrent.

  2. Sound, Gordon, very. Why, incidentally, doesn't the Eurofighter work?

  3. as his unpaid p.r. person, i must assert that BILL NIGHY was great as Slartibartfast in that otherwise unremarkable "Hitchhiker" movie. His best line, "I'd rather be happy than right."

    Me too!

    writing from NYC, where it's a very happy day for a variety of reasons.

    au relire, SB

  4. 1. I doubt if a hugely aggressive China would be deterred.

    2. Wearing tinfoil would also serve to prevent your new biometric passport being scanned remotely - again, Read Bruce...

  5. The makers of the Hitchhiker's movie, Susan, turned down the British comic-actor, David Mitchell, for the role of Arthur Dent. A big mistake. He would, I guarantee you, have been perfect for the role.

    "Why, incidentally, doesn't the Eurofighter work?" That a very Colombo-esque question Bryan! I can't really add anything to what's generally known. The project involved multiple international partners, who shared the funding, and each also wanted a role in defining the required capabilities of the aircraft. There were conflicts of interest, and these meant that the requirements of the project couldn't be fixed. Both the funding and the required specification of the aircraft were subject to much variation over many years.

  6. If Tony Blair was such a sentimental old fool, surely he'd store the nuclear weapons in the Thames rather than the Clyde?

    I must confess I've pilfered this thought from Alex Salmond who made the suggestion when interviewed on the Channel 4 news.

    But it's a valid point all the same, I think

  7. "Hopelessly Naive"December 08, 2006 1:11 pm

    Lets hear it for the Weapons of Mass Destruction. What a world. Insanity never had it so good.