Thursday, 31 January 2008

Clunk-Click, Every Trip

Twenty five years ago, the law was changed to make the wearing of safety belts compulsory.

Today, four in ten drivers (over two million motorists) either "forget" or don't bother.

The masses speak?

Not Clever

A young man drank himself to death in a “last man standing” competition inspired by the film American Pie 5: "Naked Mile".

How tragic; American Pie 2 was bad enough- just imagine how awful the fifth instalment must have been.

The Pukes of Hazard

This 2005 re-make of the appallingly awful (but slightly appealing at times in a cult kinda way) 1980s TV series, was shown last night on Greek television.

I'd have had more fun sticking match box cars up my nose.

Even with guest appearances by Willie Nelson (stick with the singing, your acting is so wooden it needs several layers of creosote) and Burt Reynolds, it was not enough to polish this festering dog's egg of a fillum. Utterly dire, with a plot written on the back of a stamp- using a wallpaper paste brush, acting to give Pinocchio a hard-on and a real live cameo role by Barbie the Doll who felt her acting skills rested in her bra.

Since when was Daisy Luke a blonde anyway?

Not even worth watching for free on the box even if you do have charge of the remote control. ktelontour trashed- not recommended. The title should give you a clue though- it is hazardous to your health.

And With This...

We seem to have posted more in the month of January 2008 than the entire year of 2006!

Is this becoming addictive?

I'll put it down to us not travelling at the moment, having access to a fast and reliable broadband interent connection, more time to browse the headlines and that January is usually cold, dull and a good time to spend at "home".

Either way, I can't predict much of a let up.

Sorry...

What About Barbecues?

You may recall us mentioning that B & Q are to stop stocking outdoor patio heaters? I wonder what they knew, because it's just been announced that the EU wants to ban them too. A vote in Brussels today is expected to call on the European Commission to abolish the heaters to help to tackle climate change.

Bad news for pubs, who spent an estimated £85 million on the external heaters after the smoking ban was introduced last year.

Besides forcing the nasty, bad, smokers into the cold there is also concern that a ban on patio heaters could bring a significant cash loss to pubs, cafés and restaurants. The hospitality industry has estimated that if only 10% of Britain’s pubs offered outdoor facilities, a ban could cost £250 million a year, or as much as £45 000 a year for a single business.

Odd really that they are being targeted. Using government figures, it has been calculated that patio heaters accounted for 22 200 tonnes of CO2 - about 0.002% of total emissions in Britain. Compare that to televisions which produce 4 6000 000 tonnes of CO2 a year...in fact, it would take more than five patio heaters to produce as much CO2 as one television on standby mode over a year.

I wonder when the ban for TV will be introduced?

Football, Bigger Than Life or Death

It's a scientific fact: blurks are three times more prone to suffering heart attacks when watching their national team play.

A German study, based on the effects of matches during the 2006 World Cup, found massive increases in the number of heart attacks on days when the host nation was playing and the recommendation is that people with a known history of heart disease should be given medication before watching big football matches.

But it was not necessarily the result that was important, more "the intense strain and excitement experienced during the viewing of a dramatic match".

No get out for Eng-er-land fans either then, although it should be a calm summer coming up...

Good Value For Money?

Town hall "middle management" employees earning more than £50 000/year, now take up around 10% of council tax revenue, with an average of sixty six such positions per authority. The numbers have risen nine fold since 1997, when labour came into power.

Jeremy Beadle RIP

Has died at the age of 59, which is no age at all.

Whether you were a fan of his or not, the man raised £100 million for charity and that is a major achievment in anyone's books.

I am really quite sad at the news.

A Nothing Result

A dull 0-0 draw at Goodison Park saw Spurs grab a point against Everton last night, and not much else. We remain 11th and look to stay there as we are a whacking eight points behind another London club, West Ham, who also have a game in hand.

Whilst mid-table mediocrity rules, we do still have the Carling Cup Final to look forward to, although meeting Chelsea implies we will probably only reach second in the competition. And of course we still have the Uefa Cup to play in/for.

At least we're not in the relegation mire (yet)- we'll leave that to Bielefeld to ensure I don't miss out on the thrills of that disaster. Their season re-starts for the Germans on the coming weekend.

Better news for the Blues, as Southend take an impressive win at Roots Hall to beat Leeds 1-0, and they move to 9th place with a game spare.

Football, don't you just love it?

Shake, Rattle and Roll


Now here's a grand idea. Following on from a successful example in Germany, Manchester has opened the UK's first playground, specifically for older people. The "older people's play area" in Dam Head Park, Blackley, has six pieces of equipment- featuring the slogan "Never too old to play" and it is designed to provide gentle exercise.
Costing a mere £15 000 to construct, it was opened after being tested by locals aged over 70, and it includes equipment for upper body exercise, training leg muscles, hip exercise, and stomach and leg training. Some of the equipment is also accessible to wheelchair users.
Fine effort; let's see it rolled out nationwide.



Boo For the Fags Ban

Not everyone is happy with the smoking in public ban, aside from obviously smokers and cigarette manufacturers.

Dry-cleaners for one. It seems that since the ban was introduced, people are getting their clothes cleaned less because pubs, clubs and restaurants are now smelling much fresher and cleaner.

Some you win, some you lose.

Raise Your Glasses To

Smaller wine glasses in pubs, bars and clubs, which our caring and concerned MPs now want to impose on licensed premises- by law.

Obsessed with the perceived notion that the country is binge drinking itself into oblivion, our politicians feel that a return to 125 ml flutes, as opposed to the new, larger style 175-250 ml goblets, will curb our reckless desire to commit alcoholic Hari-Kari.

They feel it is in our best interests because clearly, we cannot be allowed to decide for ourselves whether we want to use a thimble or a bucket.

Cheers.


PS: Why do we insist in serving wine and spirits in litres/ml and yet ale and beer in pints? I'd rather they insisted a bit of continuity there, as opposed to fixing stuff that ain't broke.

Old Southendian Hockey Club

Started playing (and I use the term very loosely) for this club from the age of around 16-17 and met some of my best, life-long friends there. I still receive a weekly bullet-in and always look for the write up on the game where my pals still play- despite us all having seen younger, fitter and stronger days. It never ceases to amaze me that not only do they still run (ish) up and down a pitch for 70 odd minutes but they keep scoring goals and winning too. Remarkable.

Anyway, not only does it bring back great memories and keeps me up to date with the club's results but I always have a real belly laugh at Dovey's writing skills. We were lucky enough to have him give us a best man's speech at our wedding and as ever, he brought the house down. Here's this week's report:

2nd team vs Harlow 1 Won 4-3 Scorer: Clark 3, Deayton

MOM: Clarky

JOS: Cobbold

A good day all in all, we beat the team second in the league and had a good dinner dance after to celebrate. Harlow are a graceless and humourless side; drive through Harlow’s drab estates and you will see why. You would have thought a nice trip to the seaside would have cheered them up but alas no, we were presented with their miserable faces and endless whining for a second time this season. We did however give them something to whine about because we scored to beat them with only five minutes to go, and as we all know there is nothing worse than having salvaged a point, having it snatched away again at the last knockings. Ha ha ha.


Hockey Bit.

Kill Bill Deayton scored a really good goal, no I’m not kidding, it really was a good goal, so good in fact we all did a double take to make sure it was him. Not that he isn’t good enough to score good goals, it was just surprising to find him pop up in the poacher’s position in the D. They scored an equaliser and Clarky biffed in a short and put us ahead again and then Clarky biffed in a short and put us further ahead. They got two back and Clarky biffed in a short and put us ahead again.

Just as an experiment I tried to write about the hockey, but if there is anything I’ve learnt over the years it’s that hockey reports can be a bit of a dry lunch when you include hockey, so I promise I won’t do it again.


A fabulous performance by John Cobbold saw him win the jacket for the second time this season. I nearly forgot to say that he didn’t actually play; just his appearance as a spectator was enough to remind the team of his dying swan performance the last time (against Harlow) and give it to him again. Tee he he. Thanks to our two umpires Roger’n’Reeso who endured a torrent of abuse from the harping Harlows; I don’t know what they were moaning about; Dave Reeso stood in front of me at a short corner preventing me from running and letting them shoot and score without a challenge. That gifted goal was worth a few duff decisions so next time guys, send them all off! Thanks to our other spectators for fine support especially Mr Dead, Alan High-age who raised himself from the crypt to have a laugh at our expense. Good sarnies from Nic MacSandwich who came up with a cracking chicken bacon and garlic mayonnaise. Yum yum!

Dovey.

Clarky at Man of the Match with yet another hat trick was another best man at our wedding, and Tolly (Cobbold) and Nic Mc were there too.

Well played lads, but I'm still glad I hung up my stick; it must have been freezing this weekend. ;-)

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Grüezi

He of the hilariously funny, part-time news letter "The Mighty Grüezi" (link on the right) has been a bit quiet recently. He claims to be travelling a lot due to this "work" thing he pretends to do, but he found time to do this:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj5nwDmnCPo

Here's what he had to say about it:

"Just before Christmas I flew back to Coventry for my cameo role in the video below. My mates and I got together to record our very own version of Band Aid as a surprise for the girls. We finished it on the Friday I got back so we could play it at a Xmas party that night. It was a quality laugh! Another mate came along with a video camera to make a video too. Here's the evidence! (I'm doing the Bonio line!!)"

Sadly it's far too good to take the piss out of, but see for yourselves...

Rain Stops Play

Is a familiar term heard in England over the "summer" months amongst the cricketing fraternity, but not quite what you'd expect to hear from the Government's electronic spy agency, GCHQ*, based in Cheltenham.

The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, which oversees British intelligence agencies, heard that the summer floods caused "severe problems", which could have become even worse had the flooding increased. It will now be reviewing its "business continuity" arrangements of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ as a result.

GCHQ maintained it would have been able to carry on, by using back-up generators, despite the agency's main power supplier (Walham electricity sub-station) coming within just two inches of flooding but it has since carried out a "lessons learned" exercise which would improve its ability to deal with future crises.

The whole country breathes a collective sigh of relief...



*GCHQ plays a key role in counter-terrorism operations, supplying information from electronic intercepts to MI5.

Mills & Boon in Polish

Following on from the influx of Polish folk coming to live in the UK, the "romantic" paperbacks from M & B are to be translated into Polish and sold at WH Smith outlets and stocked in local libraries.

This year, the publisher will celebrate its centenary and it is estimated that a Mills & Boon paperback is sold somewhere in Britain every 6.6 seconds- the company are now thought to have around 3.2 million devoted readers in the UK and 50 million worldwide.



The daily newspaper Dziennik Polski is stocked in many newsagents.

Reinheitsgebot

Seeing as German beer consumption is at the lowest it's been for fifteen years, ktelontour, partly being half-half German and partly feeling that beer makes the world go round (or at least the room after a good session) feel duty bound to big it up somewhat.

The post title refers to the purity requirement for German breweries that orders them only to use water, hops, barely-malt and yeast. No other ingredients are permitted and the law dates from 1516 which has given Germany a proud history of lagers, with some suggesting the Germans "makes some of the best beers on the planet".

Last year, some 10.40 billion litres were sold, down 2.7% on 2006, and whilst the German Brewers' Association blamed a rainy summer and the lack of a major sporting event (figures hit a high for the 2006 World Cup) to boost sales, the reasons are far more obvious.

Overall, regular customers are getting older and don't drink as much any more, and generally, Germans are more health-conscious. This is borne out by the figures for sales of soft drinks and for beer mixed with fruit juice*, which jumped 18.1% in 2007.

Germany has 1 300 breweries, including the claimed world's oldest, the Benedictine abbey Weihenstephan, which started brewing in 1040.




*An utterly gurly and quite foul habit, good for neither the juice or the beer.

This'll Please Mum

A hairy back is inherited from the mother's side.

Suicide is Dangerous

It is estimated that at the current rates of mental health decline, suicide will surpass homicide as a leading cause of death by 2075.

Marketwatch

I must be dreaming. A proposal taken by Brussels that I agree with? Heavens. The European Commission has vowed to expose industries and companies that rip off consumers by charging them more in one country than in another.

They hope that within the next five years, they will be able to publish a "full basket of 500 goods", available in all 27 member states, that will name and shame the most expensive countries. Everything from a pint of milk and the price of a digital camera to an annual gas and mobile phone bill will be analysed and exposed.

London is the world's second most expensive city, beaten only by Oslo, largely down to its sky-high transport, tobacco and petrol costs.

Stubbing It Out

Following the ban on smoking in public places, nearly 165 000 people in England gave up tobacco, quitting between April and September last year. The figures represent a 28% rise in the number of people giving up, compared with the same period in 2006.

Good for them, and let's hope many more can break this highly addictive habit. It's just a shame that it is no longer a matter of choosing to pack it in as opposed to almost being ordered to.

King Keegan?

Not so far. Another three goals scored by The Arse in last night's league game to match the same score they had on the weekend in the FA Cup. More doom and gloom for the Toon.

Particularly as they have just taken on that pint-sized runt, Dennis Wise (a beautiful oxymoron if ever I heard one) to help Newcastle sign players and develop their academy, as an executive director on "football-related" matters. I wonder how that is going to make Keegan feel as that is surely what he should be doing?

It seems he's not entirely sure either: On Monday, Keegan said he was "reluctant to tell all I know because I really do not know everything" about Wise's role but insisted he was "very happy" with the situation.

However, Keegan's comments seem to contradict the opinion he gave to BBC One's Inside Sport last October, when he said he felt that kind of structure is unworkable. When Keegan was asked about reports linking him with a return to Newcastle as director of football (surely Wise's new position?) under then-manager Sam Allardyce, he said:

"It's absolutely impossible to give Sam a job at Newcastle and then go and fetch someone who is going to be some sort of threat, it doesn't work. Sam would be a fool to let it happen and the guy who goes in would be a fool to accept it. The chairman, who is not a fool, would be a fool to go and do it, too. It doesn't work."

A kind of a Fool's Delight, you mean Kev?

And why Wise? A right nasty, surly piece of work who spent most of his career kicking lumps out of people, both on and off the pitch? More baffling as there is no role for the Tyneside hero, Shearer, either.

Newcastle remain in 12th spot, directly above their arch rivals Middlesbrough (13th ) and Sunderland (14th) and whilst winning the title may be out of the question, if they stay above both those teams at the end of the season, the fans will be more than delighted.


Newcastle have not scored a single goal since Keegan officially took over.

Going For Gold

The money the Government borrowed to part fund the London Olympics from the National Lottery will not be paid back until 2031, because the sell-off of land acquired for the Olympic Park, will not be complete for nearly 20 years after the 2012 Games.

I wonder if they will be paying any interest?

God Does Work in Mysterious Ways

This morning there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first:

John: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the shit out of you."

Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"

Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."

Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"

Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."

Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"

John: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"

Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the shit out of you."

Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"

John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"

John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

Mary: "Well, He gives you a little bit before you leave. Maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."

Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?"

John: "Hank has certain 'connections.'"

Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the shit out of you."

Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

Me: "Then how do you kiss His ass?"

John: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."

Me: "Who's Karl?"Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"

John: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."From the Desk of Karl:
  1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
  2. Use alcohol in moderation.
  3. Kick the shit out of people who aren't like you.
  4. Eat right.
  5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
  6. The moon is made of green cheese.
  7. Everything Hank says is right.
  8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
  9. Don't use alcohol.
  10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
  11. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the shit out of you.

Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."

Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."

Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

Mary: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the shit out of people just because they're different?"

Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

Me: "How do you figure that?"

Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

Me: "I'm not really an expert, but I think the theory that the Moon was somehow 'captured' by the Earth has been discounted. Besides, not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it cheese."

John: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!"

Me: "We do?"

Mary: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

Me: "But...oh, never mind. What's the deal with wieners?"

Mary: She blushes.John: "Wieners, in buns, no condiments. It's Hank's way. Anything else is wrong."

Me: "What if I don't have a bun?"

John: "No bun, no wiener. A wiener without a bun is wrong."

Me: "No relish? No Mustard?"

Mary: She looks positively stricken.

John: He's shouting. "There's no need for such language! Condiments of any kind are wrong!"

Me: "So a big pile of sauerkraut with some wieners chopped up in it would be out of the question?"

Mary: Sticks her fingers in her ears."I am not listening to this. La la la, la la, la la la."

John: "That's disgusting. Only some sort of evil deviant would eat that..."

Me: "It's good! I eat it all the time."

Mary: She faints.

John: He catches Mary. "Well, if I'd known you were one of those I wouldn't have wasted my time. When Hank kicks the shit out of you I'll be there, counting my money and laughing. I'll kiss Hank's ass for you, you bunless cut-wienered kraut-eater."

With this, John dragged Mary to their waiting car, and sped off.

Utterly brilliant.

YouTube?

No, this is still ktelontour, you haven't made a mistake and hit the wrong link. I was just browsing last night and came across a load of Phil Lynott/Thin Lizzy/Motorhead stuff which I wanted to book mark for future reference and so follows a number of videos.

Feel free to pass straight over unless you're a fan too, but I suggest you have a quick look at the football clip (~ 5 seconds) and have a grin. "Normal" service will now resume. Hopefully.

Out in the Fields- With Gary Moore

Nineteen

Growing Up

Fool's Gold

Motorhead WITH Phil Lynott



Yes, some more poor footage, but again, I was lucky to see this live too. I was deaf for days afterwards...

Dedication

Motorhead Tribute to Lizzy



Awful sound and video, but who cares- I was there at the concert! Happy Daze...

Dear Miss Lonely Hearts

Old Town

No Apologies

One of my all time heroes was Phil Lynott who formed the band Thin Lizzy. I was lucky enough to have seen him play live a few times and these are memories I will never forget. I have just managed to find some of his less well known videos of his solo career and you'll have to bear with me whilst I indulge myself.

Please feel free to skip right over them, but if you fancy taking a look, you will see a true genius in action.

On Me 'Ead, Son

Blog Stats

18% of blog posts indexed by Google blog search begin with the word "so".

Not quite sure of how often that occurs here, but it's probably quite a fair observation.

Lego Hits the Big Five Oh

Happy birthday to one of the ultimate children's toys, Lego, which celebrated its 50th yesterday, 28th January.

From their website:

The 50th birthday of the LEGO brick is in January 2008 and there is plenty to celebrate. Children all over the world have played with LEGO bricks for the past 50 years, and LEGO is still right at the top of many wish lists – just as it always has been. Industry and trade associations also recognize the LEGO success. Just before the turn of the millennium the LEGO brick was voted “Toy of the Century”, one of the highest awards in the toy industry, by both Fortune Magazine in the US and the British Association of Toy Retailers.

The LEGO history began in 1932 in Denmark, when Ole Kirk Christansen founded a small factory for wooden toys in the unknown town of Billund in the south of the country. To find a name for his company he organized a competition among his employees. As fate would have it however, he himself came up with the best name: LEGO – a fusion of the Danish words “LEg” and “GOdt” (“play well”).

Barely 15 years later Christiansen discovered plastic as the ideal material for toy production, and bought the first injection moulding machine in Denmark. His courage, input and investment paid off: in 1949 he developed the LEGO brick prototype, which continues to excite countless children and adults to this very day. Over the years he perfected the brick, which is still the basis of the entire LEGO game and building system today. Of course there have been small adjustments in shape, colour and design from time to time, but today’s LEGO bricks still fit bricks from 1958.

Production of LEGO bricks with Acrylonitrile Butadine Styrene (ABS) began in 1963. This matt finish plastic is extremely hard, has a scratch and bite-resistant surface, and is ideal for keeping the bricks connected. LEGO labs regularly monitor the high quality of the ABS for the bricks.

LEGO bricks are produced in special plants in Denmark, the Czech Republic and Mexico. The ABS compound is not delivered in a liquid form, but rather as granules, which are heated to 232° C until they melt. Injection moulding machines weighing up to 150 tons then press the hot and “gooey” plastic mass into LEGO brick shapes. The shapes dry and harden and, voilà – you have the famous LEGO brick!

There are 2,400 different LEGO brick shapes, which are produced with the greatest of precision and subjected to constant controls. Each injection mould is permitted a tolerance of no more than one thousandth of a millimetre, so that bricks of every colour and size stay firmly connected, allowing LEGO fans to build entire cities from all kinds of LEGO elements.

LEGO bricks in boxes that are not sold are melted again and turned into new bricks, in accordance with waste prevention and environmental responsibility.

Bicmaps


Can you believe that Spanish artist Juan Francisco Casas creates his artworks using only a blue ballpoint pen? Incredible.


Sour Grapes

On the weekend, Serie A side Palermo lost 1-0 against AS Roma and it's just another result amongst thousands the world over. However, the Palermo president seems a bit miffed at the loss and blames the ball boy for the goal, as he had "returned the ball to Roma too quickly at a corner kick, which led to the headed winner."

He rages on about having read the rules and that "the ball boys must stay behind the advertising boards and throw the ball to the nearest player", which according to his version of events did not occur on Saturday.

OK, you lose, you get the arse and clutch at straws but his next actions made me chuckle.

He has dispatched the club's lawyers to contest the result and wants a 3-0 win awarded or at least for the match to be replayed. How does he figure that?

Rumours that he is selecting a horse's head as a sweetener are completely fictitious at this stage...

Long Time Dead

A man from Polkowice in southwest Poland was officially announced dead by the authorities after a drowning incident in August, 2007. However, despite showing up a few days after his own funeral and thereby proving he had been wrongly identified and was very much alive, government officials still have him listed as officially deceased on their records, preventing him from working and paying social insurance.

A registry office official remained adamant about the situation. "This citizen does not exist," she said. :0D

Still, I suppose he won't be paying any taxes either then.

Font of All Knowledge

No matter how "trendy" or individual you may think you are, Comic Sans MS font does not have a place in a business letter.

One in the Ear

One poor little fellah had to endure nine years of partial deafness as he couldn't hear anything in his right ear, despite numerous examinations and tests by doctors and ear specialists. Then, whilst fiddling with his lug hole this week, the reason for his disability became apparent as a cotton bud tip fell out. His hearing instantly returned to 100%.

Good for him, but how could this not have been diagnosed by the professionals sooner? Shocking.

Cheque Mate

As of 1st March 2008, Marks and Spencer will no longer accept cheques at their tills and payment will only be via cash or card in a bid to speed up checkout queues.

Good, it's an outdated mode of payment anyway, with the banks taking up to five working days to clear payments, when it only takes the same day if using your plastic. Why let them keep all the profits?

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Office Jargon?

Making stupid people look even more stupid. The latest buzz words doing the rounds from plastic managers and wanna be Gordon Gekkos:

  • Boss-spasming: means suddenly looking busy as a manager enters the room
  • Blamestorming: means colleagues debating why a deadline was missed and who was to blame
  • Need to bottom out: means to ride out the storm
  • Juice ain't worth the squeeze: means the rewards of an action aren't worth the effort
  • Workspace-specific perceptual abstraction: means daydreaming
  • Inter-departmental liaison facilitation: means a long-winded way of describing lunch
  • I've been spinning my wheels for some time; what I need is some traction: means the speaker feels they are going nowhere in their role
  • A bite of the reality sandwich: means unfeasible plans

Heres's another suggestion:

  • Wanker: means people watch too much of The Office and need to get a life

It's STILL Bugging Me

Councils, police and intelligence services are tapping and intercepting the phone calls, emails and letters of hundreds of thousands of people every year, an official report reveals, as councils use little known powers to carry out increasingly sophisticated surveillance to catch "offenders".

The report also found that more than 1 000 of the bugging operations were flawed. In some cases, the phones of innocent people were tapped simply because of "administrative errors".

- A total of 653 state bodies , including 474 councils, have the power to intercept private communications.

- Bugging is usually carried out by MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the police and most people are targeted on suspicion of terrorism or serious crime.

- But under laws that came into force eight years ago hundreds of public bodies can carry out surveillance.

- These include the Financial Services Authority, the Ambulance Service and local fire authorities and prison governors.

More on this sorry, sordid tale here: The Telegraph

The Naked Truth

The Germans have always been completely uninhibited when it comes down to their bodies and will happily strip off at the slightest invitation. Soon they will be given another opportunity as a former East German travel company is to start specialising in holidays for naturists by arranging nude flights for its clients this summer.

Passengers can undress only when they are on the plane, but pilot and cabin crew will keep their clothes on.

McBroon Says

That the Pakistani elections due next month need to be “transparent and credible”.

Yes, mate- perhaps before suggesting how others need to be whiter than white you may wish to order your own house? Hypocrite...

HIPs Back in the News

A petition calling for a further reprieve from home information packs (HIPs) has attracted more than 3 000 signatures since it was posted on the No 10 website on Friday.

The petition, which coincided with Caroline Flint’s appointment as Housing Minister, calls for an extension of first-day marketing, which allows properties to be put up for sale when a HIP is commissioned, rather than completed.

I'm warning you bastards- if this goes tits up, I'll be suing your arses off!

Fifty Years On

Whilst we earn more, own more and have the luxury of cheap air travel, our lives are not nearly as much fun apparently. With larger mortgages, income and council tax and an endless stream of bills, the latest study suggests that we have to work much harder to enjoy the simplest things of life. Once the rent had been accounted for, the 50's family concentrated on spending their income on smoking, drinking and having tea out at the local café.

Cigarettes were a mainstay of the weekly shop; the second most "important" item on the list, accounting for almost 6% of weekly spending despite being a fraction of the price then. Eating out was also popular, becoming third biggest item of weekly spending- we spent more then than now. Booze was also another winner, ranking tenth on the household spending list. Once spirits were added, families were spending 3% of their money on alcohol, again a greater proportion than we do today.

Nowadays, things ain't so hot on the entertainment front, with big mortgages and high rents, which now take up a fifth of the weekly household budget, compared with just 8.7% 50 years ago. Factor in insurance, maintenance and water costs and housing accounts for one quarter of all our spending. Motoring and travel costs have risen from 8% of the household budget in 1957 to 16% in 2006, mainly due to rising car ownership- three out of four households now own at least one vehicle.

We also have many more possessions meaning that household insurance is another major financial headache. More toys equals more cover and all of this spending on new technology also means bigger telephone bills, mobile phone bills, car insurance, broadband connection fees and satellite/cable rental, which all feature prominently in 2006’s shopping list but not fifty years ago.

It's only once that little lot are sorted that the modern family can turn its attention to plan their foreign holidays, which rank at 37 on the list of Top 50 items.

Failing that, we can always max out the plastic and pretend we're having more fun than we did after rationing was lifted...

Nah, Don't Miss it at All


Foggy and cold London? No thanks.

Achy-Breaky Heart

Sorry, grim flash backs of C & W, mullets and line dancing. *shudder*

Anyway, the link into the post delivered, here's a top tale. A Japanese company is offering its staff paid time off after a bad break-up with a partner, with more "heartache leave" on offer as they get older.

Tokyo-based Hime & Company (which also gives staff paid time off to hit the shops during sales season) says the time off allows staff to cry themselves out and return to work refreshed. "Not everyone needs to take maternity leave but with heartbreak, everyone needs time off, just like when you get sick," their CEO Miki Hiradate said. What a top company.

Mind you, it would be of no use to us. We celebrate our 21st anniversary next month...

Nod and a Wink?

Or just the "Sullivan nod".

Almost like a remote control version of palming a specific playing card onto your mark, this is apparently a sales technique used to create a subconscious suggestion to a customer to purchase one particular item from a list of options.

The move is executed by nodding slightly, by approximately 10–15 degrees, when the item it is hoped the customer will choose is reached, say on a food menu. The key is to make the nod perceptible, yet subtle, so as to not distract and it is best done with lists of less than 5 items in length. Studies have concluded that 60–70% of the time, a Sullivan nod will result in the customer choosing the 'recommended' item.

Time to start practising in front of the mirror.

Monday, 28 January 2008

A Six Pack of Flowers

Between the age of 18 and 30 the average woman will be given 29 flowers.

1- Who collates these useless stats?

2- Why do I keep reading them?

3- And forcing them onto you?

Things That Make You Smile

Writing out a long email or Word document, hitting the spill chucker and finding no errors.

Why can't I seem to manage this on here?

We're Only Here For the Beer

Unless you go to Blandford School in Dorset.

One of the pupils was suspended for a day for drinking a can of lemonade shandy because he had broken the rules by bringing "alcohol" into school. A teacher confiscated the offending item and poured it away, before keeping the lad in isolation for the rest of the day.

The alcohol content of the drink was a sparse 0.5% and not enough to legally qualify as an intoxicating liquor. It is sold next to lemonade at the local Tesco supermarket which they lawfully and happily sell it to youngsters as a soft drink.

Yet the authorities felt this was the correct action to take? How preposterous but well done to the headteacher for being so vigilant*, flexible and tolerant.

Bland, the school most certainly is not. Draconian would be better suited.



*Particularly as he'd been drinking the same drink for the last month..

Now We're Realy Cooking on Gas

British Gas is to unveil record profits of nearly £700 million, representing a rise of more than 600% on the £95 million the business made in 2006. They are by no means alone, as other gas and electricity suppliers (the "big six" are BG, E.on, Npower, EDF, Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern Energy) cashed in last year because they refused to pass on the full value of falls in wholesale costs to customers. Instead these same customers now face price increases of up to 15%.

Good work fellahs, I'll bet your mum's really proud of you.

Round Holes, Square Pegs

Since 1974, motorists have been allowed to continue unhindered behind the wheel until they reach 70 years of age. After that, they simply fill out a form every three years to declare they are fit to drive and do not suffer ailments such as epilepsy, diabetes and heart conditions.

New proposals however want to change this relaxed approach to wrinklies on the road, by insisting that everyone over 75 must sit a test* to prove they are still mentally alert, with bans for anyone who does not pass these "exams".

Ministers will also insist that drivers must repeat the series of IQ tests every five years, and undertake an eyesight examination, if they want to stay on the road. They will not have to re-take their practical driving test though.

Why on earth not? If the politicians want to change the rules, make the myopic, old giffers re-take a basic (and free) driving test. I don't ask a carpenter to reconfigure my laptop if it fails or get a nuclear physicist to boil me an egg. Surely it's the only way to demonstrate one is still capable behind the wheel? What is it with this government in always trying to dumb things down or choose alternative trendy ways of getting to an end result?



*The proposals suggest a "cognitive" exam to measure brain power and it likely to include an IQ-style puzzle, such as being spotting the odd one out from a series of shapes.

Need a Quick Fix?

You can now access marijuana 24 hours a day via newly introduced vending machines in California.

It will only be for "patients" who are prescribed marijuana for health reasons (such as?) and they will have to present a prescription and be fingerprinted, before they are issued with a pre-paid credit card that stores the dosage and type of drug prescribed. They can then use the card to access the Anytime Vending Machines (AVM) whenever they need extra supplies.

A spokesperson said: "They'll be greeted by a security guard right there. They'll slide the card in and they'll fingerprint in to verify that it's them. A camera takes a picture of them, verifying that they're actually at the machine. And they get the medicine and they move on."

Erm, so if it is to be guarded around the clock, why use a machine to dispense the ganja? Just get the gadgy to roll you out a phat one...

IT Placebo

No matter if your computer is slow, sluggish, whizzy fast or indifferent, switching it "off" and then "on" again will always make it run faster.

Many, Many Congratulations To The NEW Mr & Mrs Norblurk


One of my oldest pals from the hockey club, Jon, finally got hitched after nearly 45 years on the run. Sadly we haven't even met his lovely new wife, Karen yet, but this picture arrived today courtesy of Tree (cheers, love) proving he's finally done the deed.
Wishing you both all the happiness and success you deserve and have a smashing party when you get back to the UK.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please raise your glasses to the bride and groom."

Uniform Withdrawal

Over 10 000 nurses and midwives left the NHS to work abroad in 2006/07 with the figure at 35 000 in the last four years. Australia picks up the majority of outward bound angels with a 75% rise in the number of nurses leaving for its sunnier climes.

It is anticipated there will be a shortfall of 14 000 nurses by 2010, now only a couple of years away, and yet the government downsizes the workforce by 20 000 nursing posts through cuts in hospitals and surgeries across the country.

The average salary for an NHS nurse was £24 000, about £10,000 less than the average police officer or teacher. With a below-inflation pay rise of 0.6% in real terms last year, is it any wonder they'd be lured by the a higher quality of life in Australia, the Cayman Islands or South Africa?

How Many Nights Will You Be Staying?

It has been suggested that due to prison overcrowding, it costs the tax payer almost £460 a night to hold a prisoner in a police cell.

How? Really, how have they arrived at this figure?

Assuming we still have Plod Shops that have been built to include cells (and let's face it, that is not a new idea- I've seen Westerns and even the sheriff's office has a little place around the back with bars on) and assuming they do include Rozzers who live there to fill out reams of paperwork, (so staffing isn't an issue), just what are the expenses to stick a baddie in a room, lock the door and check up on him once in a while.

I recall a post we did on here about the average cost of hotel accommodation and seem to remember it was perhaps around the £100/night mark. OK, add the price of bacon, two eggs and toast and it does come close to the £460 mentioned above, but are we expected to believe it is more expensive to stay over night in the nick than a two/three star hotel in London?

I really would love to know how they have costed this up. Perhaps the consultant's fee for the calculation is included?

HIPs

We are hoping to sell our house in England, and in the next couple of months it will be up for viewing. Possibly the wrong time to sell with the property market in the UK slightly depressed, but the area where we live(d) is highly desirable as it is minutes from the sea, a mainline station (direct to London can be as quick as 45 minutes) and it has a whole choice of top quality schools in the local area. This is a goldmine, as people are rightfully concerned over their childrens' education. Plus we have a garage; another winner.

Anyway, I'm not mentioning this to flog it on here (although should anyone be interested, a generous deal will be put together) but rather to whinge like a big gurl on this bloody stupid "Home Improvement Pack" this money grabbing and tax-trigger-happy Government has introduced.

By law we are unable to even advertise the place until we have acquired one of these poxy packs, simply to tell us that our Victorian mid-terraced, three bed roomed (with garage), built around 1900 hasn't got cavity insulation or solar powered central heating. Nor is any potential buyer going to be slightly interested; they want the house or not, and they will certainly not be fussed if the loft insulation is not 17 feet thick.

£379 we've been mugged off for this, all because this Government thought it was a good idea, despite not having enough qualified inspectors (McDonalds must have had a big recruitment campaign) to be seen to be doing the "green" thing.

One thing I will promise them though. When this shit-pot idea is tossed out as unworkable, unnecessary and unneeded, I will demand a refund, including compound interest, from the shysters.


And deep breath...count to 10...relax...


By the way, did I mention our gaff has a garage- better put a bid in quick.

No Dancing in the Streets

It seems that more than half of British women and more than a third of men are afraid to walk alone at night in their own neighbourhoods.

I find those figures astonishing when we are told crime rates are dropping, we have mass CCTV viewing the public for their safety, the ability to listen out for trouble via on street microphones, more police on the beat and a caring Government who only want what is best for us and so ban anything that is considered remotely dangerous.

How can this be?

When You've Got To Go

You've just got to go. But if you fancy having a bit more of a say over how you check out, there is a new website which allows you to do just that, by planning your own funeral. They say:

"There is one thing certain in life and that's death. So why not try to accept the inevitable and have a little fun? http://www.yourdeathwish.com/ is a practical and upbeat way to create your perfect funeral, archive your life and be remembered on-line. Now you can make your preferences known to your loved ones in an easy and informal way by creating yourdeathwish.com profile. You can download music, add photos, create your own remembrance page or even share your feelings in our forum."

Och Noo

A Swedish design, hoping it will sell in Britain after having become popular across Europe, will soon be on its way. Called the "craftsman kilt" it is made from denim, has two nail pockets, a loop for carrying a hammer and a knife-holder. It is also available in high-visibility style and both "models" ensure "a natural breeze in the summer months".

Not a chance. Whilst we should encourage and embrace any attempt to lessen the impact of "builder's bum" on the unsuspecting public, can you really imagine burly blurks in skirts hopping up and down scaffolding on building sites?

And what "summer months"? It's barely a weekend in the UK.

First one to post up a piccie of a sighting can come and join us for beer and pizza anywhere in the world.







I'll pay for the first pint... ;-)

What's Up Doc?

Back in the 1970s, Warner Brothers considered introducing a new character for Bugs Bunny; a cousin called "Baddy" into its cartoons.

His catch phrase would have been, "What's happenin', dudes?"

That could have worked, but "Baddy Bunny"? I don't think so.

It's Been a While

When he was the principal owner of the Texas Rangers, George W Bush briefly flirted with the idea of changing the team's name to The Texas Alamos.

Until it was pointed out to him that Texas lost the Battle of the Alamo.

Go Georgie...

Testing, Testing, 1- 2- 3...

No matter how powerful your microphone is, you will always lean right up towards it.

Thar She Blows

If whales are really so intelligent, why do they still swim past Japan, huh?

Polish Piwo at the Local

The Battle Inn, an Irish pub in Reading, England is to re-open next week as the Gospoda to cater for thousands of Polish immigrants there. They hope to specialise in traditional Polish foods and beers to give Poles a taste of home but they also want to encourage English people to drop in and experience their culture, cuisine and traditions.

I urge anyone in the area to give it a go as you will have the best time ever. The Polish people are both generous and kind and they will bend over backwards to accommodate you. However, leave the car/bike keys at home because once their super-strong lagers and Wodka start flowing, you will only manage to dial for a taxi. Just.

A few toasts to help you along the way:

Let's drink before we're all too blurry = Pijmy szybciej, bo sie sciemnia.
Drink up, the glass is getting spongy = Pijmy, bo szklo nasiaka.
Man's no cactus, drink he must = Czlowiek nie kaktus, pic musi.
It's better to be a known drunk, than an anonymous alcoholic =
Lepiej byc znanym pijakiem, niz anonimowym alkoholikiem.
Don't drink when driving, you'll spill too much = Nie pij gdy prowadzisz, za duzo sie rozlewa.


Best take a few days off work too.

96, 97, 98, 99, 100. Coming, Ready or Not.

How to build on a part of England's green belt and try to get away with it.

A farmer built and lived in a castle for four years, which he hid behind a screen of hay bales to avoid detection. He believed a provision of planning law allowed buildings without planning permission to be declared legal, if no objections had been made after 48 months.

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council in Surrey were not impressed: "It does not count because the property was hidden behind hay bales, no one knew it was there." They want it demolished, along with an associated conservatory, marquee structure, wooden bridge, patio, decking and tarmac racecourse. "It looks like a mock-Tudor house from the front and it's got two turrets at the back," the spokeswoman said. "I understand there is also a cannon."

But the bit that really cracked me up is their children grew up looking at straw out of the windows of the house and the couple kept their son away from playschool on the day his class were due to do paintings of their houses. Outstanding! :0)

To Give You Plenty of Forewarning

May is national Toaster Oven Safety Awareness month in America.

Because you can never be too prepared. :oD

Blue Ones Are Quickest

The "customer" is Jamie Whitham and the bike is one of the machines I used to own and ride.

His wheelies are much better than mine though...

Git.

Jamie Whitham

Aaaaaaarrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhhh........

We've heard it all before; the tragic Hollywood story of a young wanna-be-actor plucked from obscurity to land starring roles before getting addicted to alcohol and cigars and subsequently over coming the battle and then writing his memoirs.

Here's a twist though, this time its Cheeta (real name "Jiggs" and who starred in 12 Tarzan films before retiring in 1967) the Chimp, who is now recorded as the oldest living non-human primate. He will be working with a ghostwriter on a "funny, moving and searingly honest" autobiography, entitled "Me Cheeta" due out in October.

I'm sure it will be a fine read but fear he is too late to be the first published monkey. Most chimpanzees have already knocked out a load of Shakespeare by now.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

It's Starting To Bug Me

You may be aware (you should be; I bang on about it enough) that Britain has ~ 4.50 million CCTV cameras which capture images of the average person around 300 times a day. However, did you know that some contain hidden microphones that are designed, and able, to pick up private conversations?

Some councils, including Westminster in London, began testing the new cameras last year (more are reported to be keen on using them) in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics and many are fitted with microphones which can "bug" conversations up to 100 yards away.

Naturally this new step in clandestine and covert surveillance is entirely for our own benefit and safety, and to reassure us that all is well, a new "code of practice" is to be issued this week. It will declare that no organisation should be able to monitor or store private conversations, claiming that such activities are "highly intrusive" and that the cameras would only record voices under "extremely special circumstances", such as the detection of crime.

Note the word "such" in that sentence- not only or exclusively, but "such", implying other circumstances could be accepted.

How about the next time you're walking down the street, make sure you tell them how you really feel. Don't worry, someone will be there listening to very word...

As Forecast

Man Utd 3 Spurs 1.

Nuff said, except to add bollocks.

Bin Screwed Over

A household waste pilot scheme is to be introduced next year, and so far, fourteen authorities have expressed an interest in the idea that will enable them to charge people for the service.

Legislation is currently going through the House of Lords which will provide for the taxes to be enforced by next April, and these taxes will be based on the amount of non-recyclable waste produced by each household.

But the best bit? Councils will be allowed to employ bailiffs to collect the unpaid “bin taxes” and those that fail to pay could face a court appearance.


The government estimates that an average couple with two children could incur a bin tax bill of £72.31 a year.

Spare 50p For A Square Meal, Guv?

How does that work then? Britain plans to help India become a leading aid donor, despite being home to a third of the world’s poor.

How can a country that has between 350 and 400 million people living on less than 50 pence a day even consider becoming an aid donor when itself is often the recipient? In a country where poverty is increasing in eight of its seventeen states, and in terms of malnutrition, India has a record which is worse than most of sub-Saharan Africa?

Madness, and quite honestly, what is Britain doing promoting this?

The Bog Seat Is Still Warm. And Continues To Be

Prince Charles officially became heir to the throne of England aged three in 1952. Today, he becomes Britain’s longest-serving king-in-waiting at 59 years and 74 days, surpassing the age of Edward VII when he succeeded Queen Victoria to the throne in 1901.

An aide said: "Charles realised long ago that he would spend most of his life as heir, not as king. His is a family marked by longevity and his mother is in good health."

Aye, I can't imagine how though. Must be hellish to live on a meagre income and continually have to worry about making ends meet. Stress is a killer, don't you know.

The BBC Licence Fee

Brings in £3.5 billion a year. Anyone else feel that this is worth numerous repeats or inflated salaries for a chosen few?

Footballing Quotes

Not entirely true, as they are ripostes from Gordon Strachan*, a pleasant and very funny guy who gave us this gem:

Reporter: "Gordon, can we have a quick word please?" Strachan: "Velocity" [walks off]

Here are a further ten crackers:

1. On Wayne Rooney : It's an incredible rise to stardom, at 17 you’re more likely to get a call from Michael Jackson than Sven Goran Eriksson.

2. Reporter: Can I ask you about Augustin Delgado [an underperforming player Strachan had purchased for Southampton] Strachan: I've got more important things to think about. I've got a yogurt to finish by today, the expiry date is today. That can be my priority rather than Augstin Delgado.

3. Reporter: Welcome to Southampton Football Club. Do you think you are the right man to turn things around? Strachan: No. I was asked if I thought I was the right man for the job and I said, "No, I think they should have got George Graham because I’m useless."

4. Reporter: Gordon, you must be delighted with that result? Strachan: You’re spot on! You can read me like a book.

5. Reporter: This might sound like a daft question, but you'll be happy to get your first win under your belt, won't you? Strachan: You're right. It is a daft question. I'm not even going to bother answering that one. It is a daft question, you’re spot on there.

6. Reporter: Bang, there goes your unbeaten run. Can you take it? Strachan: No, I'm just going to crumble like a wreck. I'll go home, become an alcoholic and maybe jump off a bridge. Umm, I think I can take it, yeah.

7. Reporter: where will Marion Pahars fit into the team line-up? Strachan: Not telling you! It's a secret.

8. Reporter: Gordon, Do you think James Beattie [one of Strachan's players] deserves to be in the England squad? Strachan: I dont care, I'm Scottish

9. Reporter: You don't take losing lightly, do you Gordon? Strachan: I don't take stupid comments lightly either.

10. Reporter: So, Gordon, in what areas do you think Middlesbrough were better than you today? Strachan: What areas? Mainly that big green one out there….

*Played for Scotland and numerous clubs but most famously Manchester United and Leeds. He is the current manager of Celtic. More info on his career.

Head or Tails?

After 2 000 years, Britannia will no longer feature permanently on British coinage. As of April 2008, the last remaining coin, the fifty pence piece, will no longer automatically carry her image, instead chosen designs will represent the "best traditions of British coinage" which are "totally in line with the government’s desire to celebrate our British heritage, including our historic national and heraldic emblems." The crowned lion and chained portcullis will also lose their status as the default designs on British coins.

Funny, isn't that exactly what Britannia represented?




Records show that the figure of Britannia was used by the Romans almost 2 000 years ago. She first appeared on a coin during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, who ruled from AD 117 to 138. By the time of Queen Victoria, Britannia had become a trident-wielding symbol of the British Empire.

Mountains From Mole Hills

There are approximately 120 000 unfilled potholes in Britain's roads and the reason they are there is because of lawyers. Seriously, they are being blamed for encouraging lawsuits brought about by damage or injury to third parties and therefore depriving councils from cash that could go towards paying for the repairs.

A survey conducted by the AA revealed that councils do not have enough money to repair 12% of Britain’s 1.0 million potholes.

What kind of pathetic excuse is that?

FA Cup, Round Four

Newcastle swiftly exit the tournament after getting beaten by The Arse, 3-0. Expect Spurs to follow suit and miss the fifth round as well, when they visit Manchester United, later today.

Love Thy Neighbour

As you know, that ain't always easy; just ask the Greek and Turkish people. However, following on from the Greek Prime Minister's (Costas Karamanlis) three day trip to Ankara last week to meet his Turkish counterpart (Recep Erdogan), an insight into perhaps why:

1453: The Ottoman Turks take the Byzantine capital Constantinople (now Istanbul).

1832: Greece wins independence from the Ottoman Empire, following a decade of war.

1897: Greece goes to war with Turkey over the island of Crete. It doesn't win.

1921-1923: Greeks invade Asia Minor but once gain get their arses kicked by the rock hard Turks.

1923: In line with the Treaty of Lausanne, Greece gives up all territory in Asia Minor and 2.3 million people (on both sides) undergo forced repatriation.

1930: Turkish leader, Kemal Ataturk and Greek leader, Eleftherios Venizelos, agree a peace pact.

1974: Turkey invades Cyprus after a short lived coup against the Cypriot president, archbishop Makarios, which was engineered by the military junta then ruling Greece. Thereafter followed the island's division with the two communities sharing the island. Greek-Cypriot in the south and Turkish-Cypriot in the north, which is still how it is today.

1987: Both countries come close to another dust up over oil drilling rights in the Aegean Sea. Turkey withdraws a seismic exploration ship from contested waters and agrees not to test in the vicinity if Greece follows suit. War is averted.

1996: Another near punch up. This time over the uninhabited islet Imia, again in the Aegean. US mediation avoids another potential war.

1999- February: Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan, is captured while leaving the Greek embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. He had been sheltering there which led to "tensions" between Turkey & Greece.

1999- August: Powerful earthquakes in both countries lead to a mutual sympathy and aid.

1999- December: Greece lifts its veto on Turkey joining the EU.

2004: Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, becomes the first Turkish premier to set foot in Greece for 16 years.

2005: Both countries agree to direct communications between two air bases covering the Aegean Sea, thereby avoiding dog fights between the two air forces.

2007- November: Both prime ministers inaugurate a natural gas pipeline to link the two countries.

2007- December: The two countries agree to expand military cooperation through high level visits, conducting joint missions in Nato, disaster assistance efforts and overseas peacekeeping duties.

2008: Greek Prime Minister, Costas Karamanlis, is the first Greek premier to visit Turkey in 59 years.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Cinemas Abroad

A word of forewarning when going to see a film with subtitles, as most films are shown in their original language outside of central Europe. Don't expect to experience a completely silent auditorium as you would back in the UK.

Most of the cinema goers will quite happily chat over the soundtrack as they are only reading the dialogue.

Zorba the Greek

But he wasn't. Anthony Quinn was in fact Mexican.

Life Can Be So Unfair

Imagine being a vegetarian and contracting chicken pox.

Cow Guffs Part II

It's not just the Aussies that are attempting to crack bovine botty burps, the Chinese are applying themselves to this most pressing of tasks too. However, instead of trying to get the 1.5 billion walking lawn mowers to ingest kangaroo bacteria, their solution appears to be far simpler.

The Takahashi formula, discovered by accident whilst investigating the causes of of mass cattle poisoning, involves a blend of nitrates and the amino acid cysteine, which acts as a powerful suppressant of methane production inside the cow’s stomach. It also has no effect on milk quality and cost a mere about 50p each day per animal.



Methane is about 22 times more potent than carbon dioxide at capturing atmospheric heat, and cows produce large quantities of the gas as the bacteria in their stomachs breaks down plant fibres. Their near-constant cud-chewing allows a small quantity of the gas to escape with nearly every breath each animal takes and of course we have "gas dispersal" via the other end too. It is thought that cattle account for 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Cost of Getting Hitched

If you think it's expensive getting married in the UK (average price is ~£11 000 for the big day) then spare a thought for Chinese couples. Their costs have doubled in four years with the average wedding costing 53 645 yuan (£3 750). That may not sound much but it would take them more than two years to pay for it.

Don't You Know Who I am? I am FAMOUS

It seems the HM Revenue and Customs on-line system for filing tax returns is elitist. Thousands of “high profile” (MPs, celebrities and royals) Britons have been told they cannot access the web-based system and must send records by post. Apparently it is only "technical issues" that are preventing higher security individuals filing online.

Phew, I am so relieved; the post here is atrocious.

And Continuing With Bikes

Written by Kevin Ash for The Telegraph:

A major report on the effects of allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes provides overwhelming evidence of startling safety benefits to cyclists and pedestrians, as well as motorcyclists, but has been suppressed for political reasons. The long-awaited report, commissioned by Transport for London (TfL) and leaked to Telegraph Motoring, should have been published last October. After two years of prevarication, however, it remains a secret - despite showing clear and immediate safety benefits that would apply to the whole country.

TfL created three trial routes on which "P2Ws" (powered two-wheelers) were allowed to use bus lanes, although one, on the A13, was later discounted because the figures were distorted by major roadworks. Results from the other two, on the A23 in south London and the A41 in north London, show major safety benefits to all "VRUs" (Vulnerable Road Users - ie pedestrians, cyclists and scooter/motorcycle riders). According to the report's executive summary, there was a net reduction in collisions involving P2Ws and pedestrians (46 per cent) or cyclists (44 per cent), plus a 45 per cent reduction in P2W casualties.

The evidence is especially clear after traffic migration is taken into account. The report shows that large numbers of motorcyclists changed their routes into London to take advantage of the trial bus lanes, with P2W traffic increasing on the experimental routes by between 25 and 40 per cent and falling by similar amounts on parallel roads that were monitored. Yet 24 months into the study period (extended from 18 to 36 months, with motorcycle groups claiming that this was sparked by the politically uncomfortable conclusions that were being reached), TfL changed its method of generating data to something called the Tanner Test. Even the report's own conclusion questions the validity of this test, which is generally considered to be an outdated statistical tool. It says: "What that [the Tanner] method cannot do is allow for any fluctuations in vehicle usage, and therefore cannot account for the impact of migration on the results to be used." Previously, the figures from the trial routes were being compared with parallel control routes where P2Ws were not allowed in bus lanes - and it's these more realistic, earlier figures that provide conclusive, positive evidence.

The significance of this report reaches beyond London to the rest of the country, where many local authorities have been waiting for its conclusions before implementing their own policies. TfL is aware of this, as the report itself confirms: "Although the experiment was designed to generate evidence that is specifically related to... the capital, the results are likely to be of significance for all authorities with interests in improving road safety in relation to P2W use. Interest in this study has been expressed throughout the UK and internationally." Crucially, the report also shows that cyclists did not abandon bus lanes through fear of motorcycles - which has always been the most common reason cited for denying bus-lane access to P2Ws. Indeed, the experimental bus lanes recorded increased cycle usage (on top of a growth in cycle usage across London generally over the trial period) as the following extract indicates: "The evidence from casualty and collision data shows that cyclists' concerns that their casualty rates would rise, and use of their mode would decline, were unfounded in practice... the safety records for cyclists significantly improved where the measure was deployed. Results also show that cycling rose on trial sites - despite the presence of P2W riders in bus lanes and a significantly above-average rise in P2W use of trial routes. The report concludes from the evidence that conditions for cyclists did not significantly deteriorate." Similar conclusions were reached with regard to pedestrians: "The sum of casualty evidence shows that fears of significant rises in pedestrian injuries during the three-year trial were not well founded, with the overall figures demonstrating a significant net safety benefit to pedestrians when considering the collision rates." The report does not look into the reasons for these across-the-board safety improvements, but possibilities include the fact that P2Ws are much less likely to surprise jaywalking pedestrians or weaving cyclists when in bus lanes rather than when filtering between or past cars. And with large numbers of two-wheelers using bus lanes, a critical mass is reached where other road users expect them to be there and behave accordingly.

So why hasn't TfL published the report and acted on its findings as soon as possible? Jeff Stone of the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) says: "This smacks of political interference from the highest level. The report is fantastic news - everyone gains and there is now no excuse for not opening all bus lanes around the country to P2Ws." A clue lies in the report's findings about the attitudes of other road users to the idea of motorcycles in bus lanes, with almost half the surveyed pedestrians and a large proportion of cyclists expressing negative views (although only 40 of 800 cyclists returned their forms, which is statistically insignificant compared with total cycle usage in London). So although the move would clearly prevent many injuries and save lives, it might be greeted with disapproval from a significant number of voters who harbour a prejudice against motorcycles. In its reaction to the report, TfL's priorities and attitudes have been laid bare.

  • Just before we went to press, Transport for London responded with the following statement: "When an early draft of this report was put together we found that there were significant methodological issues as well as irregularities in the way data had been collected. This meant the validity of these early results was questionable. Further investigation of the data has now been carried out and the report is due to be published shortly. The Mayor will need to examine the full contents of the report and the trial results before taking a decision."

You can make your on minds up, I am sure.

The Screw Turns Further

A friend from one of my bike chat forums (SEM) posted this up, after a colleague attended a motorcycle instructors' seminar held by the DSA yesterday. He come back with some chilling and interesting news about the DSA's plans for the future of rider licensing - and all licensing. 300 instructors at the seminar were in an uproar - and here's why:

Fact 1: the new test will be implemented in October, requiring all motorcycle tests to incorporate the new off road section, only possible at the new 'test supercentres'. Unfortunately, hardly any of the new supercentres will be operational this year. For Hampshire, Sussex, Kent, most of Surrey and South London, the only supercentre that will be operational by October is Burgess Hill, in Sussex. That's right, just one test centre for a large part of the densely-populated South East. Several other supercentres are planned, but they're nowhere near ready: the one for Eastbourne doesn't even have a site agreed or purchased yet.

So no-one will be able to get a test slot. And the existing test centres won't be able to offer the new test - not only do they not have the facilities, but they are closing their motorcycle tests down in October and going car-only. Why are they going ahead despite not having put the facilities in place? Because, said the DSA guys, the government won't delay implementation of the new test because it would be 'politically embarrassing'.

Fact 2: We take the entitlement to a driving license for granted, but it isn't a right, and the government/DSA intend to make it much harder to get one in future as a means of controlling congestion. So getting a provisional license soon won't be automatic - you'll have to jump through some hoops to get one, and even perhaps have to justify your need for it.

Fact 3: In the near future (2-4 years) motorcycle entitlement will be in four categories, not the current two (restricted and unrestricted). To move up through the categories will require EITHER extra driving (riding) tests, or some form of compulsory training. So whereas at the moment, if someone passes their A2 test they are restricted to sub-33bhp bikes for two years then the restriction is automatically lifted, in future they will have to pass an additional driving (riding) test or complete some compulsory training (a bit like a CBT but more involved). It hasn't yet been decided whether it will be extra tests or extra compulsory training.

So it looks like the future of motorcycling, the mode of transport that BLiar promised would be at the heart of transport policies as it is a greener way to travel is still looking bright and rosy...

Thanks to Paul and as and when he updates, I shall do the same here.

Speaking of Hair




The 26th day dawns and there is no let up in growth. Still quite comfortable looking like a hippy but I now face a dilemma; how long to let the sideburns grow? Perhaps I should experiment with some of these?
Well groovy details here: Face and Head Furniture R Us

On Me 'Ead, Son

One out of every 220 cans is crushed on the drinker's forehead. It is somewhat reassuring that some traditions will just live on.

I Live With a Law Breaker

Yesterday, wifey hopped on the Shonker for a spin.

As I watched her tear off up the road backing into the corner and laying down a darkie (technical term pc fans, do not fret), I was rather impressed at her billowing locks, flying freely in the wind.

Yes, wifey was "going Greek", sans helmet which is entirely verboten.

Come and get us coppers, we're the Porto Heli Two, rebelling against the Man, man...

Friday, 25 January 2008

**Expenses Update**

A short while back, I mentioned that MPs are able to claim expenses of up to £250 without the need for a receipt. Perhaps what wasn't clear is that this is per item and these things can include household* goods such as fridges and toasters, office equipment, and travel costs.

So while the MPs gallantly accepted a "meagre" 1.9% pay increase (it goes up from £60 277 to £61 820), they can still, in theory, claim up to a maximum of around £43 000 in a single year without needing to explain what it was spent on.



*I am hugely puzzled by this "perk"- why would an MP need to claim for a microwave, waffle iron, curling tongs, blender or tumble drier in the course of their duties?

The Chosen Few

The historic cathedral city of Canterbury in Kent is requesting that French school trips stay away from the area as they "arrive by the coach-load, spray their hair green and squirt silly string in the street". The Lib Dem councillor continued by stating: "What we need is quality tourism and people who come for a few days and stay in our hotels."

Quite. Let's hope Spain, the Greek islands, Portugal, Turkey and many of the emerging East European countries feel the same way about the British lager swilling louts who think it is "cultural" to get blind drunk, start riots and terrorise the locals for a bit of fun.

Give me silly string any day of the week.

Just Taking a Dip



Come on in, the water's lovely- and so it should be at Chilean resort of San Alfonso del Mar which offers you the world's largest swimming pool to relax in.
The $3.5 million pool is three metres deep, holds 66 million gallons of water and operates with a computer-controlled system drawing in water from the sea from one end and pumping it out of the other, harming no wildlife or ecosystems.
At well under two million quid I don't find that too expensive, at least, compared to some of the crack pot schemes that we read about every day and they plan to build more "mega pools" in Panama, Argentina and, naturally, Dubai. Oddly enough, no mention of Sarfend, but then have you seen the state of the Estuary?

Meeting God Early


Wow, they're a tough crowd in Italy.

An 86 year old man suffered a fatal heart attack during an early-morning service at the Church of the White Madonna in Trento, and after calling an ambulance (and respectfully covering the body), the Father continued on with his service.

"What could I have done? The Holy Mass has to be celebrated. It is not right to make an exception for one individual" he later asked.

(It is against Italian law to move a body without the authorisation of a local magistrate.)

Bye-Bye, You Won't Be Missed

The Work and Pensions Secretary yesterday resigned in an effort to "clear his name".

Surely the actions of a guilty man; why resign when you've done nowt wrong?

Every Silver Lining Hides a Cloud

Whilst recorded crime drops, the increasing problem with "gun culture" was highlighted by figures that show 28 firearms crimes are committed in England and Wales every day.

Out of the frying pan...

Special Message From the Mayor of London


Mind the Bumps

Interesting spin on the new global fascination with carbon dioxide emissions. Following tests by the AA, a car travelling at a steady 30mph will achieve 58.15 miles per gallon. Same car, same conditions but driving over speed bumps (quaintly called "traffic-calming measures") it will only manage a miserly 30.85 mpg.

So not only do the useless lumps of rounded concrete wreck suspension and tracking of motorised vehicles, they double the CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.

Another discovery made during the experiment revealed that by reducing the speed limit from 30 mph to 20 mph, as recently suggested by the Mayor of London, it resulted in 10% higher emissions. This is because car engines are designed to be most efficient at speeds above 30mph.

I wonder if any of this will be taken into consideration at any time in the future? Nah, didn't think so.

PS: Putting in 50 standard humps on three or four connecting residential streets costs about £150 000.

And the Good News Is

The continuing drop in recorded crime. But that's the rub, isn't it? Recorded crime.

How many people just don't bother to go and see Plod and waste their time on meaningless paperwork; knowing full well Old Bill is not going to make any effort in trying to solve the incident as it registers way down on their list of priorities.

Behind the roster on who's going out to get in the next round of doughnuts and getting a quick fiver down on the next race at Kempton.

Still, if the sta-testicles are down, they're down so there is hope yet. Full details over with my chums at The Times.

Princess Di To Become New President of the United States

Two subjects that continue to dominate the headlines with no end in sight, which are boring me absolutely RIGID. Princess Bloody Diana and the US election "race". How many more months of excruciating drivel to we have to contend with? No one really cares, and yet day after miserable day we have to endure some "expert" guffing on about the Queen of Hearts or who has picked up the votes in some vague back corner in the mighty U S of Bleedin' A. And it's been going on for decades.

Enough. We just don't give a stuff, OK?

On a Mission From God

Yeah, yeah; nice try.

The Catholic Church in Hungary has asked the Justice Minister to exempt priests from a new law that severely punishes drivers with alcohol on their breath. The Church says that drinking sacramental wine is a vital part of services.

Boot Sale Bootie

You would think police stations would be the safest place to keep things, but even the local Filth factory is not in the clear from thieves, particularly in Kent, where over a 1000 pieces of property have been filched over the years.

Items such as make- up, toys, games, livestock, shrubbery, CDs, cigarettes, ash trays, scientific equipment, sweets and alcohol have all mysteriously gone walkies.

Best of all? 25 cars stolen from the Rozzers residents in the past decade. Cute quote: "You can imagine one getting nicked but 25 is rather a lot". No shit, Sherlock...

Instills you full of confidence doesn't it. Not only can't they prevent theft in their own back yard, they can't even find the tea leaves responsible. What chance the man in the street then?

Casting Couch



So I have a school boy's sense of humour; I've never denied it. :-D

Hotmail

So why, when you check the option "remember address and password" do you still have to enter your password? Every time?

Answers on a Postcard To...

Proof of Age?

One way or another they're determined to push through the ID card racket. The latest "leaked" Home Office documents have revealed that students will be "blackmailed" into holding identity cards in order to apply for student loans.

Anyone aged 16 or over and applying for the loans or wishing to open a bank account will be forced to hold the identity cards from 2010, rumoured to cost up to £100.

You Fat Bastid

The combined mass of all the ants in the world is greater than that of all other insects combined.

Two Wheels a Go-Go

Leading up to the Beijing Olympics, China has revealed that it has halved the number of bicycles that have been stolen to about 2.0 million in the past nine months.

Mind you, the country is home to a world record 460 million bicycles, so that is some achievement.

It's in the Post; Honest

A letter sent out on 20th December 2007 finally reached its destination on 3rd January 2008. The recipient, a Polish IT worker, calculated that it took 294 hours for the letter to arrive at his home, which was 11.1 km away from the sender.

Given the distance and the time, the speed of the letter was therefore 0.0378 kilometres per hour, which he compared to the calculated speed of a snail at 0.048 kilometres per.

It proves that Polish post really is snail mail...

Fly Me To The Moon

Speaking at a launch at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, America, Richard Branson said: "Two thousand eight is going to be the year of the spaceship. We're excited about this, and everything it will do", as he unveiled plans for Virgin Galactic to send SpaceShipTwo into space with test flights planned for later this year.

In time, the spacecraft will carry two pilot astronauts and six passengers, and the company already has more than 200 reservations from hopeful passengers for the rides with another 85 000 having expressed interest. That'll be some interest at costs around £100 000 per person.

Branson said he expected the cost of a ticket would fall "dramatically" within five years of launching but already Stephen Hawking, former Dallas star Victoria Principal and the designer Philippe Starck are amongst the people queuing to get into space. The space trips, from a launching pad to be built in New Mexico, are expected to take about two and a half hours, with about five minutes of weightlessness.

What ever floats your boat...