Bill Pannifer looks askance at the Skeptic's Dictionary and gets glowing reports about hot holidays at Ground Zero
Monday 27 January 1997
This painstaking labour of doubt by the philosophy tutor Robert Carroll continues to expand, as new follies come online to be greeted with its insistent claim "the only thing infinite is our own capacity for self- deception". Eyebrows remain permanently aloft on this site: on the Net, the "roads less travelled" are jammed with rickety belief structures and just plain fraud, and Carroll has appointed himself traffic cop. This is an engaging, book-length work exclusive to cyberspace - a term surely ripe for an entry of its own. The latest material covers pyramid-selling schemes and repressed memory, and the Scientology pages are essential reading in the light of recent interventions from the great and good of Hollywood. But after scepticism, what remains? Try credulousness. Yes, there is a Gullible Page (http://mmm.mbhs.edu/gyang/million.html.)
The Bureau of Atomic Tourism
Blow away those winter blues and visit some of the world's hottest holiday destinations in this guide to atomic test sites open to daytrippers. See the locations of those recently revealed US nuclear cock-ups, along with Bikini Atoll, Los Alamos, White Sands, the Savannah River Site ("Where Strontium 90 was made") and lots more. The Strangelovian humour is just a framework for lots of genuinely interesting material: still, the Fifties flashbacks and comfortable historicism make us forget that not everything has been relegated to the museum.
Rasa Penang Malaysian, Singaporean and Chinese Restaurant
Surprisingly few UK restaurants have online ordering, but south-west Londoners seeking South-East Asian food can visit this enterprising site for Singapore laksa, Szechuan squid and sambal ikan goreng, not to mention the usual sweet corn coup and sweet 'n' sour. The whole menu is here: e-mail from the order page and await delivery, though there's no online credit card facility, nor guaranteed delivery time. And despite apocryphal tales of pizza being delivered across the Atlantic, if you want kung poh chicken, you have to live in or near Putney. There is, however, a monthly competition to win dinner for two, if you can answer questions like "how many skewers in a single portion of satay?".
The Shangri-La Home Page
National boundaries are swept away in this pictorial evocation of a Shangri- La its creator calls "a personal notion, not a fictional place". So with a few strokes of HTML, India, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and others dissolve into a borderless James Hilton fantasy. Olympian detachment or Himalayan hubris? The author accepts there are losses involved in choosing "raw nature" over cultural diversity, and makes up for it with ecology pages describing the 50 tons of rubbish scattered on Everest, including baseball bats and Frisbees. The images - via a clickable map of the whole range - offer their own justification, especially a spectacular satellite view of the peaks, the (lost) horizon receding into deep blue space.
Thrust SSC News
SSC as in Supersonic Car, our bid for the land speed record and basically a terrestrial airplane with its wings clipped, and a hopeful RAF "driver" slung between two Rolls-Royce jet engines. This contraption is (wait for it) "equal to the power of 1,000 Ford Escorts" - but nevertheless has been tearing up the Jordanian desert at speeds approaching the sound barrier. The site has technical sophistication to match its subject - movies, near- instant updates fed directly from the latest trials, and an online press office - along with lots of merchandising, and vicarious high-velocity thrills for speedfreaks of all ages. Plus a wary respect for, and links to, another other serious contender, Spirit of America, which crashed last year doing 675mph.
The Miracle Nun Bun Site
Impossible not to collude in the continuing bid for world domination by this cinnamon bun, whose surprising resemblance to a certain elderly do-gooder of Albanian descent has earned international recognition. The updated site now offers a Nun/Bun morph, in either animated or Quicktime movie format, to underline the similarity. There are also souvenir mugs, T-shirts and prayer cards, with 10 per cent going to charity, though in the circumstances 90 per cent might be more appropriate. Despite left- wing attempts to expose the cake as a CIA stooge, it remains, irreducibly, "the nun that appeared in a bun"n
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