The Information Superhighwayman

I am small and I don’t eat much…

Lock up your Negros

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Once more in this fine and free country of ours, the Lords are debating the passing of the new Mental Health Bill. Sensibly they have thrown it out every time it has been before them but Parliament keep throwing it back. This Bill will allow people with various forms of mental illness to be detained, indefinitely, whether they have committed any crimes or not. Ministers say this will protect the public from these nutters.

This bill seems mostly to be backed by the families of some people who have been killed by psychopaths and other people who would be covered by this act. They stand there on the TV saying how good it will be but deep beneath this emotional tinsel these people are still asking for people who have committed no serious crime (and likely as not never will) to be able to be locked up until they are dead.

I wonder what would happen if this were a couple of hundred years ago – Would they be on the Clockwork TV network saying “My son was eaten by a big black man, these people are dangerous and should be locked away in case they eat somebody else’s children too!”

There is a side issue here that a high percentage of judges and politicians are psychopaths anyway, more so in fact than are black. Maybe the politicians are just trying to remove the competition?


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Those of you who know me should know that one of my fascinations is the phenomenon of Groupthink (or “Folie a Deux”) and one of my professions was working out how to steal things more effectively. I have been avoiding ranting about this topic for a while but it rather amazes me that the press are just starting to realise that all is not well in this nation of British Shopkeepers.

When I first heard that the British Government were pushing this Chip and Pin idea; I seriously had to check tha it wasn’t April the first. For those people lucky enough not to be in the UK, Chip and Pin is a new way of paying for things with a Credit or Debit Card.

dodgychipandpincard.jpg

British payment cards have a little chip in them at one side, effectively making them into a smart card. They also have the magnetic and signature strip on the back so that they can be used abroad or used in cash machines without chip readers. When you pay with one of these, you either give it to the person at the till, or pop it into the little card reading machine yourself, wait for it to confirm the amount and then type in your 4 digit PIN to complete the purchase. This should ring some alarm bells already simply on the basis of casual theft. Anyone standing close to you when you are hassled in a shop queue and not being at all careful (as presumably you would be at a cash machine) can see you type your PIN and then thump you a few yards up the street, nick your cards and clean your account out at the closest cash machine.

This is a little dirty for the likes of a weblog like this but it’s not something that should be ignored just for that reason. Saying that this isn’t where the real issue lies. The real issue lies in the fact that the cards still have the magnetic strip and don’t use a different PIN for the smartcard and the strip. Financially, it is not very viable to clone a smartcard at the moment; it’s possible but until it becomes more useful (that would be when identity cards come into force) the risk is still low. On the other hand, it is pathetically easy to copy a magnetic strip. When you give your card to somebody before you type the PIN into a machine, you don’t know what they are doing with it. Have they swiped it and copied the strip? Is the “Chip and Pin” machine recording your number? Is there a camera in the roof monitoring what you type on the keypad? All it takes is one swipe of your magnetic strip by a shop assistant, a waiter, a petrol attendant or a well equipped prostitute and a knowledge of your PIN and your details could be sent to across the world within seconds, your stripe details written to another card and your bank account cleared before you have even left the shop. Personally I find it quite annoying when the country’s biggest supermarket (that’d be Tesco) has their staff take your card off you and swipe it behind the counter rather than let you slide it into the card reader like most other shops do. At least when I physically put the card into the machine myself I know that it can’t be reading the magnetic stripe. Tesco are just asking for staff fraud to happen. In fact, any checkout employees reading this who want to buy a 3 track magnetic card reader/writer, I am doing a good deal on them.

It seems obvious that for this to be classed as an advance in security is just idiotic but then that is a fundamental of Groupthink. Next time how about just sticking a photograph on the card? it’d be easier and cheaper. TV shows like “The Real Hustle” have been showing you how to rip people off for the last year with this and international gangs (should I be emotive and say GANGS PROBABLY LINKED TO ORGANISED CRIME AND TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS?) have been stealing hundreds of millions using this nice and easy free cash machine for quite a while now. It’s only in the last couple of weeks that it seems to have hit the news.

As far as I can see, the government decided that the country should all have Chip and Pin from February the 14th, 2006. Supposedly it is possible to demand a card that doesn’t have a chip; I will have to remember to do this sometime. It’s be nice to have seen any of their reasonings and to find out who their security consultants were so that we could all stand around and throw peanuts at them. Frankly and speaking from a professional point of view here, they must all either have been fucking morons with no understanding of anything at all or just out of their head on the Crade-A cocaine they’d bought with the money the government threw at them for their advice.


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When I was younger, thinner and more photogenic, I came home from a cellphone-free holiday in Scotland to find myself all over the newspapers being dubbed as “The Information Superhighwayman”. This was the start of the Harrods vs. Lawrie case which went on for a long time and due to my refusal to talk to the press, put me in a pretty bad light. It was the first domain-name case outside the US and so it was one that would potentially have far reaching implications. At the time it was only the second case in the world and the first was nothing to do with the people who actually registered the name, just people who bought it from them. I was the world’s first “domain name speculator” and paid a high price for it in the press and in the industry as well, which I guess has long since regretted not being more openly on my side. I have since explained the whole Harrods thing to anyone who wants to listen but most don’t and honestly, it’s in the past and I rather like the title “The Information Superhighwayman”. Oddly, since I was in charge of registering customer domains for British Telecom for a few years, I was far more often on the other side of the domain-name trademark legal-war on my customers’ behalf. One of the strangest things that happened to me in my prosecution-years was having a big domain-name trademark case I prosecuted whilst at BT used in the baa.com case as a precedent against me. That one amused me somewhat, I admit.

When it comes to it, I didn’t register any of the trademarked domains I had back then to sell them, I registered them so we could pitch sites at the companies involved and when we’d convinced them of the wonders of the Internet, we would already have the sitenames to build the site on. Way back then in the early 90’s all but one company said “We’ll never want to be on the Internet, we have no interest, sorry chaps”. A few years on when people did want to be on the Internet, my company lawyers acted badly in my interest and when they were approached started insisting on money changing hands. We did later make a claim against the lawyers for acting without instruction or something but again that’s all forgotten in the mists of time.

Yesterday I registered an Indian domain for a small project I am starting, and I had to search out a suitable one. I noticed that a hell of a lot of the ones I was interested in had already been registered and parked on Sedo (a site that sells domain names). When I registered the one I wanted finally, I was offered the chance to put the domain up for sale on the very site I had used to register the domain. This struck me as very weird and a very odd way for the industry to have gone after all the shit I got in the early days for doing what I did.

I have only ever sold two domain names. I wonder if that is surprising to most people? I sold one years ago because of the afformentioned lawyers (I think I made about $5,000 from it of which I got about $1000), and I sold the other because somebody offered me a lot of money for a generic domain name. I have had a lot stolen from me – In the old days it was a lot easier to fake transfer requests and a lot of people did. After the transfer was done it was nearly impossible to get them back without years in court and a lot of money. I have had a few stolen “at source” too. One of the largest and oldest registries (no names) had staff who were all too willing to simply steal a domain from the owner, and register it to somebody else for a suitable bribe. There was no paperwork in those days and the electronic trail would of course be deleted. This isn’t imagination, I believe a lot of this sort of thing came out into the open in the sex.com court case.

One of my favourite domain names was richersounds.com – Again we originally registered this because we wanted to pitch a site to Richer Sounds, a rather good audio equipment company in England. A few years on the domain was up for renewal (they were free when I started registering them, amazing hey!) and I noticed richersounds.com was about to expire. I like Richer Sounds – They used to give lollipops away in their stores and once in Leeds when they had run out and I jokingly wrote a letter to Julian Richer (the owner), telling him to send the store more lollipops. A week or so later, Julian sent me a whole box of lollies. You can’t beat service like that. When I noticed richersounds.com expiring, I contacted Julian and arranged the domain transfer and everything at no cost; just so that they wouldn’t lose it. I guess they will take my Superhighwayman Hat off me for things like that, won’t they.

As I seem to say a lot these days, it’s odd how the world is changing but whatever happens, the lawyers will get richer off the back of it all. I wonder… Ummm.

bash$ whois richerlawyers.com

No match for “RICHERLAWYERS.COM”.

There you go somebody, I am sure that will make you a few dollars somewhere.


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Feel free to ignore this, I just wanted somewhere to babble and this seemed as good a place as any. If it makes any grammatical sense at all I will be amazed.

In case you missed it, it’s the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in England. This has caused lots of debate; one of the main ones is about whether we should say sorry and pay compensation for the slave trade. I have been watching this with interest especially every time it gets compared to the Jewish Holocaust during World War II.

I was initially tempted to point a finger at the British and complain bitterly at us for becoming a nation of apologists – For what? For being the first country to actually abolish slavery? For being the good guys here? For having a country where people could at that time stand up in Parliament and say “Look, this isn’t right, we need to do something about it”. The more I think about it though, the more I admire the British for the general opinion that we shouldn’t apologise. Historically we see something is wrong, we fix it and then we move on. Want some examples here? We killed over half a million native Aborigines in Australia in about 120 years; we killed 300,000 of the ethnic Kikuyu in Kenya and tortured hundreds of thousands more; we caused the near extinction of most of the tribes of Native Americans in the US and Canada. In the late 1800’s British policy in India caused the death of between 12 and 29 MILLION Indians and not content with that, we did pretty much the same thing again in Bengal during WW2 killing another 3-5 million. We mustn’t forget of course that 200 million blacks died as a result of the slave trade though not all of those were caused by the British – Just most of them.

Trust me, when it comes to Genocide, the Germans are utter amateurs.

The late half of the last century seems to be obsessed with guilt for history and I am tempted to put forward a theory that most of the hassles we have at the moment in the world are caused by this. Israel is getting away (very literally) with murder simply because nobody dares to say anything against them for fear of being accused of being anti-Semitic. In writing this, I will be accused of being anti-Semitic and a closet Nazi. I am not, I have no issues with Jews at all but I have huge issues with the Israeli home policy. Incidentally, why would I be accused of being a Nazi? The Jews have been massacred many times by many people… In 1270 King Edward the 1st decided that Jews were a threat to England and ordered that all Jews wear a yellow star to identify them in public. After imprisoning or executing all the Jewish heads of household the Jews were finally banished from England from 1290 until 1655 when Cromwell let them back. Sound familiar? As God’s chosen ones, the Jewish people were told to “not fit in” so they are used to persecution from all over the place. It’s not an accident that Israeli Politics labels anyone who doesn’t agree with them these days as a Nazi though.

Central Europe doesn’t seem to be able to let the Jewish Holocaust go. Germany seems to be racked in complete guilt even now about the whole thing. Why? As far as most Germans involved in WW2 were concerned, they were provoked and cleverly manipulated and led into a war in which they sometimes fought brilliantly but eventually lost. The British were very quick to forgive the Germans, I have never seen a single serviceman who has had a grudge against the Germans; the war ended, the Jewish Holocaust was exposed and the world as a whole, including the German people, was repulsed and shocked. It’s over, the people who were responsible for it were rounded up and arrested and tried and hanged or imprisoned. Brits don’t blame modern Germans for all the deaths we suffered, all the cities we lost and the fact the Empire was finally bankrupt and destroyed. Hell I will be silently happy the day that a German has the balls to suggest, without arrogance or guilt, that if Hitler hadn’t stopped his forces at France and decided not to invade England at that time, they’d have occupied us and we’d not have been fighting the rest of the war from England. It’d be an interesting argument, but Germans aren’t allowed to have any historical pride in their own armed forces, most of whom weren’t Nazis at all. It’s weird because after World War 1, German Soldiers did keep that pride, they wore their WW1 Iron Crosses for many years after, some Jews were saved because they had won Iron Crosses in WW1 – The huge majority of German combatants weren’t Nazis, they were just soldiers, like most of the rest of the poor sods killed in combat during that war.

The fact they lost and the fact the Jewish Holocaust came into the open and dragged a whole heap of guilt into Europe and America was the difference here. There seems to be an assumption that the UK and the US were all nice to the Jews at that time. The British had a good reason not to be. Even during WW2, Jews were still fighting the British in Palestine – but the US? The St Louis, a ship with 950 Jewish refugees was turned away from America in 1939 by the Roosevelt government and sent back to Europe. European countries took them in but most then died in the camps anyway when their new countries were occupied. Henry Ford and many prominent Americans were quite openly and publicly anti-Semitic by the start of WW2. The Red Cross admits now that it knew about the Holocaust but didn’t disclose it so that it could maintain its neutrality. There is no black and white here, just a lot of grey but still, Germany seems to get all of the blame.

I am not sure whether to blame Germany for this continued guilt. As a country under permanent “occupation” for the last half century or more maybe it’s been hard to forget the past but one day someone has to draw a line under it all and Germany needs to move on. The Finns, Italians and Hungarians don’t seem to have problems. Do most people under 30 or 40 even know what side they were on in WW2? If it helps, I don’t have a clue what side they were on in WW1. Whilst this guilt exists, it’s impossible to look at the Israel situation without it getting in the way. The Arabs don’t have much concept of this Euroguilt and I would guess they just don’t understand why Western Europe and the US always seem to cringe every time Israel starts to yell. How many years will this carry on for? How many more walls will they build, towns they will bomb, human rights they will jackboot all over before someone has the balls to tell them to stop?

Recently the Germans announced that they would use their presidency of the EU to attempt to criminalise the use of the Swastika within Europe. This is amazing on two levels, firstly in that 50 years on they still seem to want to atone for something and add more and more fleas to their hair-shirt stock and secondly that once more Germany, under the banner of the Swastika, is trying to impose their will on millions of other people. European Hindu groups have used the Swastika as a religious symbol for about 5,000 years and it’s a popular symbol in many religions. It’s fair to say that this decision was taken through stupidity or naivety rather than malice and thankfully, they have now decided it was an ill thought out plan and cancelled it but still – Aaargh!

Back to the original subject of compensation for slavery; there have also been many supposedly clever people saying “Why don’t the Vikings apologise for invading us 900 years ago?” – Apart from anything this annoys me because for a start it was more than 900 years ago and secondly the major Viking invasion was as a result of us, the English, committing genocide on the orders of King Ethelred and killing all the Danes in England on November the 13th, 1002. We’ve forgotten that particular holocaust on our part; thankfully; but it’s another one to add to the already long list of British Genocides.


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Monkeys!

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It seems that I now have 59 of the PG-Tips monkeys. That doesn’t include Sidekick, the trusty little monkey of the same family who travels the world with me in the pocket of my rucksack.

To get 59 monkeys, I have had to buy 9,440 tea bags at a cost of about 165 quid. The tea alone takes up a few square metres of space. But hey! They are handmade, and in England too, that’s got to be something right?

For those who have been lucky enough to avoid my monkey obsession, these are the little monkeys being given away with special packs of PG-Tips but he was originally not a PG-Tips monkey, he escaped from the long since failed OnDigital TV Adverts just after they became ITV Digital and crashed horribly, taking Monkey with them. Monkey became a cult advertising hero and for the first time I can think of, another company bought the rights to him and ressurected an advertising campaign for a completely different product. The OnDigital monkeys became quite valuable, selling on eBay for about 100 quid each and for a short time, they made the Sidekick mini-monkeys but that stopped due to licencing problems I think. I have one of those and Carolyn has his only known relative.

http://www.pgtips.co.uk/freemonkey/

For more, and watch the advert, it’s great 🙂 You can find the older adverts on Youtube.


Monkeys

Isn’t he cute! Can you see why I need 60 of them now? I am going to try and get one of those fairground claw machines for them to live in.


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Today I discovered that you can get a Bedwetting alarm that takes the form of a mat that goes under a child’s sheet. When the kid wets the bed it sets off an alarm that wakes the kid up and presumably, they will cease their weeing.

I got to thinking that if I had designed that, the alarm part of the device would be shaped in the form of a giant clown head whose nose and eyes would light up and flash red at the same time as the clown screamed and howled at the child. I’d probably build an electric shock mechanism into it as well just to be sure the kid woke up as soon as it started wetting the bed.

Cyclops Clown

The more advanced models could incorporate some learning systems that picked up on the child’s weeing patterns. Just before a predicted incident it could whisper “IF YOU DO, I AM GOING TO EAT YOU!” in a menacing voice whilst glowing, just a little…

To make this system more effective it needs to be hidden from view when the child is awake. I suspect a holographic device would be the best means of doing this and would come with the added plus that if the kid somehow got enough spine to throw something at the disembodied howling head; it would pass straight through it, adding to the mystery.

(C) Lawrie Inc. “Terrorising Small Children for over 30 years”.


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Hail to the TV.

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I watched Battlestar Galactica a few days ago and that is another 40 minutes of my life that I want back please. Nothing happened, well except Starbuck dying but no doubt they will force her back on us as a Cylon or something so we won’t get rid of constant whiney misery PMT girl in the near future. She started off cute, quirky and amusing, but then so did most people in that show.

When it came out, I remember saying it was the best thing to come out of the US for years. And it really was. It was well made, well plotted, well acted, well shot and an improvement on the original. The problem is when they ran out of the original 80’s story to mirror it just stopped and died. Now it is utter boring dross. Just you wait, we will end up with robot dogs, kids with the most annoying American accent in the universe and the invisible Battlestar and fleet hovering above earth for a whole finally fated season one day.
Prison Break has really improved again, it had a lull at the start of season 2 but that seems to have mostly gone away; though I can’t really see how it can carry on for much longer with all the amusing side characters dead now.

Heroes seems to have stayed good, but then it’s still only on its first season so that’s to be hoped really. Mind you, in 3 seasons I may stop finding Hiro charmingly amusing and switch to annoying as fuck.

LOST (interest) goes on and on and on and unfortunately most of them seem to be immortal. I wonder if the actual actors will die of old age before the series ends.

Boston Legal is consistently brilliant, superb and wonderful. It just gets better and better. I want Shatner and Spader as my weird old gay uncles that nobody else in the family talks to.

Gilmore Girls is… Well the same as ever, nothing has really happened at all in 7 years and I like it that way. One small problem is that every time I see Lorelei I keep thinking of her yelling “FUCK ME SANTA!” whilst being shagged in a car by Billy Bob but then, that makes makes me giggle so it’s all good. Kirk is my hero and I fancy Paris still; so Gilmore Girls is ok by me still.

Veronica Mars is good mind and eye candy and she’s still cuter than most of the others. Eat your heart out Buffy. I used to like it a lot more but it does seem to have gotten a little boring, but mostly still fun.

NCIS is NCIS – I like it, they seem to keep trying to introduce long term plots but failing miserably but that doesn’t hurt it. It’s fine as a whole load of mostly standalone episodes to me. Mind you, I am biased, I think Bellasario is generally wonderful anyway, unless of course he still has anything to do with the new Battlestar Galactica in which case he should be shot.

Dexter was great, but it didn’t last very long. I am told it’s coming back but I bet they will find some way to spoil it.

House is consistently good, though getting a bit convoluted. I am glad that stuff with the police guy is over though, yawn!

Stargate SG1 is just ridiculous, but it’s about to die anyway and so it’s allowed. Stargate Atlantis is better than SG1 but still, ditto. It’s not quite completely lost the plot yet like SG1 has but I am sure it will. It’s kind of a shame they killed off the Scottish guy just to have an impact; given that he was one of the only good actors in it.

Ugly Betty, apart from not having a single ugly person in it, is still amusing me. Unfortunately most of that show’s entertainment comes from the gay nephew. Him, Paris, Abby and Kirk need to get a show of their own. Maybe something based on Charlie’s Angels.

Finally, My Name is Earl somehow has managed to stay original despite having played the same story about 40 times now. I don’t know how it does it but I like it anyway.

That is Michael’s summary of American Telly at the moment. I know you don’t care less anyway but it’s my weblog and I will post what I want.


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I decided to measure my personal Carbon Footprint using http://www.carbonfootprint.com today – This site seems just to be some (hopefully) well meaning con to guilt-trip people into giving money to plant trees somewhere in Africa which I am sure will end up being chopped down to make paper or something before they are of any use whatsoever in carbon sinking.

The site is a little simplistic and only provides an un-offset figure – It doesn’t ask the question “How many acres of woodland or forest do you have” which is odd considering that ultimately, their aim is to get you to fork out money so that they can plant trees to offset all the carbon that you are pumping out into the atmosphere.

Anyway, all that aside I put my data into it and my Carbon Footprint per year (before any offsets are applied) is 9,273 Kg compared to the national UK average of 5,013 Kg. Of course, it doesn’t allow me to factor in offsets so I did my own adjustments and apparently my Carbon Footprint is actually -190,700 Kg.

That is over minus 190 tonnes a year – How fucking smug should I feel now? Absolutely, enormously, stonkingly, hugely fucking smug, that’s how fucking smug I should feel now.

Right! Now! Speaking from my absolutely, enormously, stonkingly, hugely fucking smug and very righteous pedestal, I want to express my pissed offness at this new airport passenger tax which has been imposed on us by Blair’s Stasi and backed by the Green Party and Friends of the Earth. When twatty little environmental group spokespeople with their half million quid, solar-aided middle class homes and their £40,000 environmentally friendly cars say that they want to make air travel so expensive that normal people can’t afford it; claiming that this will save the planet for their privately schooled, chinless little offspring Tarquin and Lucretia, then sorry but I want to put an incendiary bullet into them and their methane recycling systems. Cheap Air Travel is a godsend to Europe and is doing a hell of a lot more social good than it is doing environmental bad.

I have never had problems with Friends of the Earth before but now I do and I can’t be the only one. A fluid European population and workforce is a good thing and cheap air travel is vital for this and of course, the people this will most effect are the poor. Go pick on someone else why don’t you?


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Damned Yankees

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I am holding off on publishing the design for MICHAEL’S DEATH MACHINE for a few reasons. Firstly, I am still getting the safety systems for the prototype and secondly because I am not sure I should be responsible for the death of millions of bloggers. It would be a bit pointless having a blog taking the piss out of them if they were all dead and self-parody is so very 1990’s.

Anyway, I figure I owe you something so this week I will present How to Hack a Stanley Yankee Screwdriver in glorious digital kodachrome. The Stanley Yankee is one of those screwdrivers that you push in and it twists itself in the direction that you set; they are useful for doing things without people hearing you, unlike those pesky noisy electric things and they are just generally cool things. One of the problems with the Yankee though is that the bits are expensive and as far as I know there is no interchangeable tip system so – I made one.

The standard flathead bit looked like a good start since it already had a taper in the shaft which would save a little bit of cutting. The aim was to create a tapered 1/4 inch square drive on the end so that a bit changer could be fitted.

01-ingredients.jpg

02-ingredients.jpg

Case hardened steel is no match for my Dremel and a sodding great vice! Anyway, it needs cutting off at the neck.

03-cut.jpg

04-cut.jpg

Eventually, with time and some effort, it’ll fall off. Happens to us all in the end. You need to keep this bit in case you were wondering:

05-intwo.jpg

You need to taper the end now – Luckily two sides are already done as part of the flathead so just match these up on the other side to make a nice square.

06-finish.jpg

07-finish.jpg

With luck, the 1/4 inch bit will fit onto the end nicely – A bloody big hammer makes it fit better though.

08-bitfitted.jpg

And just to prove it still looks cute – Here’s the end product.

09-yankee.jpg

10-yankee.jpg

There. Now don’t say I don’t occasionally post something useful!


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As somebody who was fast-tracked to the position of Master Blogger, I realise that I probably owe something back to the all of the normal bloggers out there. I have been pondering what I can give back but I had been uninspired. Until now, that is!

Having read a few random blogs in my research it has become very apparent that what most bloggers really want to do is to kill themselves. There seems to be a common theme about how miserable their lives are and how they want to end it all so it struck me that what they need is a simple, quick and painless suicide device that requires no bravery to use and can be built for quite a small amount of money from easily obtainable parts.

Inspired, hey?  It is! Honestly… Most means of killing yourself require a large leap of faith and may well fail leaving the person too much of a cabbage to even class as a Myspace user. My new patent free “MICHAEL’S DEATH MACHINE” (sorry but the upper-case is required) won’t fail and has the advantage that if timed correctly the user can even write a final blog entry whilst hooked up to it.

I am building my prototype now. This is somewhat delayed by the fact that the prototype is already costing a small fortune because needs to have safety mechanisms and measuring systems built in so that I don’t accidentally kill myself during testing. I don’t want to be providing shonky goods here! As a favour to Nature, Humanity and the Internet Community as a whole I think I should make this device as effective as possible.

Watch This Space, Bloggers!


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