Friday, 28 February 2014

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Fog on the Tyne

A Chinese general says the country's thick smog is its best defence against US laser weapons, it's been reported.
"Laser weapons are most afraid of smog," People's Liberation Army Major-General Zhang Zhaozhong told state-owned CCTV television, according to the South China Morning Post.
"Under conditions where there is no smog, a laser weapon can fire [at a range of] 10km (6 miles)," he said, adding, "When there's smog, it's only 1km. What's the point of making this kind of weapon?"
Gen Zhang has been criticised online by social media users, but says his comments were taken out of context. He was talking about the weakness of the laser gun, not advocating for smog, he says. The general's comments follow reports that the Pentagon is preparing to deploy its first laser weapon aboard the USS Ponce.
Chinese media have suggested elsewhere that there are upsides to pollution. The Global Times newspaper suggested that thick smog could thwart missile attacks and make it harder for foreign countries to carry out reconnaissance missions. And official news agency Xinhua published an article entitled "The Five Surprising Gains from the Smog".
BBC

2Cellos do G & R

Welcome to the Jungle...

Hercule the Parrot

A parrot has helped Indian police solve its owner's murder.

Neelam Sharma, wife of the editor of a Hindi daily newspaper, was killed in her home in Agra, 200 km from New Delhi, together with her pet dog. The police had no initial leads on the murder, until the parrot, named Hercule, provided a key clue.

Vijay Sharma, Neelam’s husband, picked up on the fact that whenever his nephew visited, Hercule would start screeching. The parrot would even respond when the nephew’s name ‘Ashutosh’ was mentioned in conversation. Sharma alerted the police to his suspicions, who interrogated the newly found suspect. Ashutosh confessed, telling the police he had entered the home with an accomplice in order to steal money and valuables and had been caught in the act by his aunt. Afraid that she would recognise him, he stabbed her to death. He also stabbed and killed her dog, which wouldn’t stop barking.

Unfortunately for him, he didn’t take the parrot into account. Hercule had kept his mouth wisely shut during the murder, only to open it later to reveal the truth.

Sums it Up

The After Life

Worse Than Shameful

The difference between an adequate diet and malnutrition, for many countries throughout the world, can be found in a landfill. A new report from the World Bank confirms that anywhere from a quarter to a third of the food produced globally is wasted, an amount that Jim Yong Kim, the organization’s president, calls “shameful.”
In places like the U.S., the losses are higher because we have more to waste: The report found that about 61 percent of losses in North America occur during the consumption stage — when we bring food home and then leave it to rot (or throw it out under the mistaken assumption that it’s rotten). That calculates to about $1,600 a year being spent on uneaten food. In Sub-Saharan Africa, as a contrast, such behavior accounts for only 5 percent of losses — there, a full 87 percent of food is wasted during production, storage and transport, before it ever reaches the consumer.
And as the report points out, the estimated 4 billion tons of wasted food is only the end of it. When crops end up wasted, the excess amounts of water, for example, that go into irrigating them ends up wasted as well.
We produce enough food to provide every person on Earth with 2,700 calories per day. Yet 842 million people still go to bed hungry. This is only the latest indication that the system is seriously broken:
Salon

DYK?

did-you-know-159

True or False?- 10

True or false:

10. If aliens on a planet 65 million light years away are looking at us right now, all they'll see are dinosaurs.

True. When you look out into space you're not just seeing a place, you're also seeing a time – the time it's taken the light to travel to you.
The universe is both very much smaller and much larger than we tend to think. A light year is the distance travelled by light in the course of a year. Or 5.88 trillion miles. So 5.88 trillion times 65 million makes… a Lot.
Indeed the total size of the observable universe is 46 billion light years – and that may be only the start of it. It may be infinite, and one of an infinite number of parallel universes…
What's out there? God? Aliens? More science?
Such thoughts make my brain ache, but here's another thought to bear in mind across the Infinity Drake series.
Finn's father, Ethan Drake, went missing during an experiment into this kind of thing. Nobody knows how it happened, and nobody knows where he is. But maybe, somehow, somewhere out there… there is an answer. Keep reading!

True or False?- 9

True or false:

9. Pigs can be killed, near frozen and brought back to life.

True. Scientists have anesthetised pigs, drained their blood, nearly frozen them (getting down to 10C) , then reversed the process and brought them successfully back to life with an electric shock. They don't technically die, they are kept in a state of suspended animation.
Many insect species (with the right type of blood) can be kept at a temperature of -10C for very long periods and still come back to life. The larvae of one type of midge can be kept in liquid nitrogen at temperature of -200C for three days and still pop up as good as new.
The Scarlatti wasp is kept on ice in a state of suspended animation for many years before being brought back to life.

True or False?- 8

True or false:

8. Great White Sharks are more deadly than mosquitoes.

False. Bite for bite, sure the shark is nastier, but in terms of slaughter there's no comparison. Mosquito bites – which spread diseases like malaria – kill an estimated one million people per year – mostly children under five – while less than six are killed by shark bites. In fact hippos, deers, bees, dogs, ants, jellyfish, cows, horses spiders and snakes are all more likely to kill you than a shark. But then who wants to see a horror movie call Moo?
So don't be concerned that a few insects get wasted in the book. There's a lot of machine gun blood and guts action against spiders, ants – wasps certainly – very few of which are innocent.

True or False?- 7

True or false:

7. Trees blow up when lightning strikes.

True. The water inside them instantly boils and expands blowing most of the tree to smithereens. This isn't in the book, I just love it as a fact.

True or False?- 6

True or false:

6. Polo mints possess a quality called "triboluminescence" which means they will light up when snapped in half.

True. Find a very dark place and snap or crush a Polo mint and it will release a tiny flash of light. It is thought this is caused by the electrons trapped in the crystalline structure of the sugars being released suddenly and violently: they rush about to find a new place to go – hence the glow.
The same can be observed when opening a strip of sellotape along the line where the adhesive bond is being unbroken. Also it's a property of certain minerals.
In the book Finn wears round his neck a piece of the mineral sphalerite which belonged to his father, then his mother, and which passed on to him after her death. It will glow simply by being scratched and he likes to keep it next to his heart.

True or False?- 5

True or false:

5. Niels Bohr – the father of sub-atomic physics and a true genius of the 20th century and possibly the brainiest man ever to walk the planet – used to be a footballer.

True. He used to play in goal for the Danish side Akademisk Boldklub, and his brother played in mid-field (was so good in fact he played for Denmark). Everybody in Denmark loved Niels, he was brainy, personable, an all round super star and national hero. So much so the Danish brewer Carlsberg built him a house and gifted him a lifetime supply of free beer. Hic.
If it weren't for him, Uncle Al would never have been able to build the Boldklub Accelerator which reduces the size of atoms.
Other notable if unlikely goalkeepers include Albert Camus (French existential novelist), Pope John-Paul 2nd (last Pope but one), Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes) and Che Guevara (Cuban revolutionary).

True or False?- 4

True or false:

4. There are 14 million insects on earth for every single human being, or in other words 14 million insects that can be apportioned to you personally. Call them your own private army.

False. In fact there are at least 140 million insects per person. Do the math. The number of insects in existence is thought to be 10 to the power of 18 or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000; the global human population is thought to be 7,100,000,000: making a neat 142,857,142.86 per head. Let's just hope they never turn on us...
In my book Finn collects just a tiny fraction of his share, which seems fair enough. If you go to his website he'll show you how to set up a lamp trap and start a collection of your own.

True or False?- 3

True or false:

3. Our sense of smell works, not chemically by scent molecules locking onto receptors in the nose, but by quantum vibration, whereby smells wobble some strange bit of our noses in a way we don't really understand.

True. Possibly. For many years medical science has assumed smell is a chemical process. Some scientists now think that scent molecules wobble about in such a way they emit an electron that can be picked up by smell receptors in the nose. In part it could explain the fantastic sense of smell some animals and insects have. Bloodhounds have a sense of smell 10 to 100 million times more powerful than a human's. A silkworm can smell a mate seven miles away.
In my book the Scarlatti wasps can pick up each other's scent over tens of miles.

True or False?- 2

True or false:

2. You can take an insect, turn it into a bullet and fire it out of a gun.

False. It would vaporise and there'd be bits of legs and guts everywhere. It might make your enemy go "Ur.." but it wouldn't kill them. Although you can weaponise an insect and turn it into a killing machine in its own right.
In World War Two the Japanese dropped infected fleas over China to spread cholera, killing nearly half a million people. During the Cold War each side developed horrific insect killing machines - hybrid fleas, mosquitoes and other insects that would carry and spread diseases and other lethal biological or nerve agents. The plan was to drop them over enemy cities or armies.
In the book, the Scarlatti Wasp was developed during research into just such a program, but the project was shelved because it was so horrific. And then someone released it...

True or False?- 1

True or false:

1. Each of us is made up of 7 octillion atoms (7 followed 27 zeros) that are mostly empty space. If you could squeeze all the empty space out of those atoms, you could reduce the entire human race to the size of a sugar lump.

Diagram1
True. Look at this diagram of a hydrogen atom. Notice the distance between the nucleus and the electron. At true scale this distance is enormous. If you imagine the nucleus as a pea in the middle of a football stadium, then the electron would be a gnat whizzing around the very edge of the top row of seats.
If you could bring the gnat right up close to the pea and eliminate all the empty space in between, then you could reduce humanity to the size of a sugar lump.
In the book Finn's mad scientist Uncle Al builds a machine that can squash out some of this empty space, reducing Finn and a bunch of soldiers to 150th of their actual size.

True or False?- Intro

Scientific "facts", that may or may not be true as per John McNally's latest book and TG:

My latest book Infinity Drake and the Sons of Scarlatti is the first in a new series of adventure thrillers in which the hero, Finn, gets caught up with his mad scientist uncle in a secret race to destroy an escaped bio-weapon – the Scarlatti Wasp – before it destroys life on earth.

Just another day in the life of an average 12-year-old. But… a pitiless trillionaire terrorist sabotages the project and Finn gets shrunk to 9mm and finds himself way behind enemy lines with a couple of soldiers and bunch of weapons – missing, presumed dead.

The thrill-a-minute consequences contain some stunning action and some stunning science. But how much of that science is fiction and how much fact? Check out my top 10 true or false crazy science "facts" and see how if you know the difference between them!


Coming up next.

Lost Card

We're members of the local DVD hire shop and both have those mini bar code cards that you can put onto your keyring.  Unfortunately wifey's must have broken off somewhere as it went missing.

We popped into the shop to report it missing, mainly to avoid anyone else using the card to grab a load of DVDs and leave us with a large bill and the young chap was super.  Great English, he sorted out the cancellation and when we asked if we could get a replacement, he readily arranged that in just a few minutes.  All for THB 19, but that's almost the same price as buying an older title from our local stall...

Lawless- Bought for 80 Pence

Saw this last night and loved it, despite being a tad far fetched in places.  Based on a true story, it's set in the Prohibition era of America and with Tom Hardy in the lead, wifey was well made up.  Shia LaBeouf also "starred" and did nowt but wind me up and the cameo by Gary Oldman was simply not enough.  However, Guy Pearce steals the show.

A fair review from IMDb:

'Lawless' is definitely a great film but there's something missing. 

The acting is really strong; Tom Hardy's performance is probably his best so far. His voice is so different to his normal voice which really highlights how he has worked hard on his performance. I was really surprised by Shia LaBeouf's performance, he's never really impressed me but he gave a great performance here. He really proved that he could do some proper acting in the future and hopefully move away from the 'Transformers' series. Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain both perform well but their roles are wasted here. They have no real purpose in the film and are merely there as love interests. It wouldn't have been such an issue if they had gotten any actress for these roles but they instead chose two of the best rising stars with huge amounts of talent. Guy Pierce is outstanding here but his role becomes almost comical towards the end. He gives a great performance though and is quite disturbing. Gary Oldman gives a really good performance but has only 5 minutes screen time! It seems like such a waste, it would have been interesting to see his character included in the plot a lot more.

Overall this film was fantastic but there was a few things that director John Hillcoat could have improved that would have made this film truly brilliant, such as giving more characters some crucial screen time. The violence was not really an issue; I don't think it diverted the film away from anything which is good. It contained the right amount of violence for the film and shouldn't put anyone off from watching this.

Ham Fisted

A frazzled Japanese couple have been subjected to a high speed car chase with police and held at gunpoint on their first day on holiday in the US, after apparently misunderstanding traffic signals, it's been reported.
Officers in the US state of Utah say they spotted the car driving slowly and erratically on the motorway and signalled for it to pull over. But the woman driving reportedly panicked at the police cars' lights and sirens and sped off, trailed by three patrol cars, the Japan Times reports.
The chase ended 11km (6 miles) later, after the car drove over a row of tyre spikes. The motorway was closed in both directions as police feared a confrontation with an armed criminal.
The Japanese couple, unable to understand the police commands, were then pulled out of the car at gunpoint, as their seven-year-old son sat crying in the back seat.
The situation was finally defused after police tracked down a Japanese-speaking officer elsewhere in the state. But one officer was not entirely convinced that the woman didn't know what to do. "Red and blue lights are a pretty universal signal," says Highway Patrol commander Brad Horne. "Regardless of nationality and language, when we put lights on, people pull over and stop."
BBC

We've Seen That

Cameras at the top of the Buenos Aires Obelisk monument
It is not clear how long the CCTV cameras have been on the monument for
In Buenos Aires, people are taking the city to court for putting CCTV cameras on top of a national monument, it appears.
Police say the four cameras on the 67.5m (221ft) Obelisk will help them watch traffic in Plaza de la Republica, at the intersection of two of the city's main thoroughfares, the Buenos Aires Herald reports.
But at least one political group - the Corriente Unidad Sur - says they could also be used to watch people, since the Obelisk is a focal point for political protests, social gatherings and city nightlife.
"There is no difference between installing these cameras and cops watching us with binoculars 24 hours per day from the dome," activist Andres Perez Esquivel tells the ANDigital news website. "It distorts the cultural character of the Obelisk, which commemorates our national flag, as a symbol of unity and solidarity."
Perez Esquivel, the grandson of Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, is also lobbying for the authorities to publish a map locating 2,000 cameras in the city, the Ambito website reports.
The Obelisk in Buenos Aires' Plaza de la RepublicaThe Obelisk is a focal point for gatherings and protests in the city
BBC

Whiskey or Whisky?

The difference between whiskey and whisky is simple but important: whisky usually denotes Scotch whisky and Scotch inspired liquors, and whiskey denotes the Irish and American liquors.  The word itself (both spellings) is of Celtic origin.

Stout Whiskey

Inside the Galway Bay Brewery in Galway, Ireland, a tiny batch of imperial stout lies in Irish whiskey barrels. When brewmaster Chris Treanor’s newest creation is released in late February, it will join a small but growing number of imperial stouts — stronger, more intense stouts — brewed in the country.
On one hand, it’s surprising the trend took so long to start. Few drinks seem more Irish than one that marries the two drinks the country proudly claims to have invented centuries ago, whiskey and stout. On the other hand, considering Guinness’s domination of Irish brewing, and Treanor’s personal story, it’s amazing the Two Hundred Fathoms imperial stout is being made at all.
    Like many brewmasters, Treanor’s roots were in home brewing – but his trajectory from a college kid making beer at home to save money to Ireland’s (and possibly Europe’s) youngest brewmaster is uncommon. His is a story that could happen few places besides Ireland, where the burgeoning craft beer scene is promising, but still just young enough for a now-23-year-old to make his mark.
    After a series of fortunate events just after college that he compares to winning the lottery, Treanor found himself in charge of the only brewpub in Galway, creating his own recipes to release on tap. Less than a year later, in 2013, Galway Bay expanded to a new facility with a 100,000-litre capacity – more than 12 times the size of the brewery’s original facility next door, allowing him to experiment even further. Beers like Two Hundred fathoms illustrate how far Irish stout has come in the last few years.
    Since Arthur Guinness first started brewing stout in the late 18th Century, very few other breweries have successfully produced the beer in its ancestral home. In the 19th Century, Ireland had more than 200 breweries, but in modern times the Irish have had virtually no choice of stout except Guinness, and its much smaller competitorsMurphy’s and Beamish. Then, in the mid 1990s, a few independent companies entered the brewing scene and changed everything.
    Barry Cassidy, owner of JW Sweetman, the only pub in Dublin that brews beer onsite, said much of the reason it took so long for smaller producers to begin competing with Ireland’s big breweries is because of brand loyalty. Most Irish, Cassidy added, also still lack a sophisticated palate for different types of beer.
    “Give us a potato and we can tell you if it’s a regular potato, a roast potato – we can even tell you what county it’s from,” Cassidy said. “[But] we’re terrible with flavour profile… we’re just now starting to get better.”
    Cassidy had a point. Even Guinness, the stout by which all others are measured, is not particularly flavourful compared to many of its US counterparts. Don’t get me wrong: I love Guinness. But it’s the subtlety and the creamy, silky texture that make it so enjoyable. In fact, the Guinness Draught we know today is likely a smoother, less robust version of the original. Now at a moderate 4.2% alcohol, a pint of plain, as it’s famously called, has basically become session beer.
    Never the less, droves of tourists still head to Ireland on a pilgrimage for a pint of Guinness in the beer’s homeland, and swear it tastes better than in any other place on Earth – there have even been studies that have proved that claim to be true.
    Some say Guinness tastes better in Ireland because beer doesn’t travel well; it’s intended to be drunk fresh. But Guinness is brewed in almost 50 countries worldwide, so most pints don’t have to travel that far (Guinness states all of its draught beer in the UK, Ireland and North America is brewed in Dublin). Then there’s the urban legend that the pub taps throughout Dublin flow directly from the Guinness brewery at St James Gate. But the real reason likely has just as much to do with sentimentality; Guinness tastes better in Ireland just like a glass of Chianti tastes better while overlooking the hills of Tuscany. Going further with the idea that the Guinness’ taste is largely psychological, Cassidy went so far as to say the famously laboriousGuinness pour  is more about “theatre” than it is about taste.  
    With its harp and shamrock logos, and its monopolization of St Patrick’s Day, nothing screams Ireland like Guinness, giving it more brand recognition than nearly any major beer on Earth. But this brand loyalty, combined with restrictive tax laws and Guinness’s stranglehold on beer distributors, has made it difficult for craft brewers to compete – until recently.
    Today, none of Ireland’s three big stouts – Guinness, Beamish and Murphy’s – are Irish owned, which has been a boon for the country’s young craft brewing industry as Irish consumers start to look for flavourful local beer.
    When Ireland’s first craft brewpub, The Porterhouse, opened in Dublin’s iconic Temple Bar neighbourhood in 1996, it seemed doomed to fail. But surprisingly to most, it became so successful it soon opened two other locations in Ireland, as well as one in London and most recently one in New York. Part of Porterhouse’s success probably had to do with its design – it has an energetic atmosphere, located in Dublin’s most touristy area, with tables made from copper brewing equipment and a live-music stage that rises through the centre of its three stories. It also makes some very good beer, including the oyster stout: a sweet, creamy, slightly smoky brew with a bit of a salty kick, due to the fact that it’s brewed with fresh-shucked oysters.
    The same year Porterhouse started serving pints to its patrons,Carlow Brewing Company in County Carlow began bottling O’Hara’s beer, today Ireland’s most ubiquitous craft beer.
    But even with those standout successes, another decade passed before craft brewing really took off. In part thanks to the trailblazers of O’Haras and Porterhouse, and in part thanks to government tax breaks implemented in 2005, the number of Irish microbreweries began to grow. Soon after, breweries like Gallway Hooker outside of Galway, and Franciscan Well in Cork (which was purchased by Molson Coors in 2013) started producing high quality beer. Word about the new wave of Irish beer began to spread. Demand for something different grew so big, microbrewing spread to even the tiniest villages.
    In 2011, almost 250 years after opening, the Roadside Tavern in Lisdoonvarna, a village of less than 1,000, started brewing in-house under the name Burren Brewery, called such because of the town’s proximity to the limestone landscapes of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. Today, the Burren Red is so popular they have trouble keeping it in stock. While the Burren Black is slightly more bitter, and not quite as silky as Guinness, it still went down easy.
    Back in Galway, after I had a small sampler of Treanor’s beer, he recommended I sample a pint of limited edition Kindred Spirit from County Cork’s Eight Degrees Brewing at Oslo Bar and Microbrewery, the brewpub that houses Galway Bay. Aged in 25-year Irish whiskey barrels from Teeling Whiskey Company, Kindred Spirit was a smokey black beer with a subtle hint of oak and whiskey.
    That’s the beauty of a country with such a small craft brewing industry – the city’s only microbrewery still supports other local brewers rather than competing with them.  
    BBC

    Match Report

    It was a night when everything boiled down to the nonsensical events of 13 minutes in the second half. Trailing 2-0 on aggregate to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk,Tottenham Hotspur's hopes of reaching the last 16 appeared to be in tatters. They were playing poorly, frustration was building inside White Hart Lane and there was nothing to suggest that Tim Sherwood's side could score the three goals they required to progress.
    However, it only takes a second to alter a game's narrative. Hopeless for much of the tie, Tottenham were banging their head against a brick wall until Christian Eriksen equalised after 56 minutes. Suddenly the mood changed. Six minutes later, Roman Zozulya, Dnipro's goalscorer, was sent off for a headbutt on Jan Vertonghen and by the 69th minute, Tottenham led 3-2 on aggregate thanks to two goals from Emmanuel Adebayor. What had looked like being a triumphant return to the club that fired him in 2008 for Dnipro's manager, Juande Ramos, ultimately became a harrowing experience. For Tottenham, the reward for an unlikely comeback is a tie against Benfica.
    "I was delighted with the character," Sherwood said. "It's Tottenham. We find a hard way to do it. You probably all thought we were dead and buried."
    Yet Tottenham will have to play with far more nous against opponents as illustrious as Benfica in a fortnight's time. They were outplayed for long periods in both legs and endured some fraught moments even after Dnipro had been reduced to 10 men. Hugo Lloris had to make three excellent saves in a frantic finale, including one from Yevhen Konoplyanka in stoppage time, while Dnipro were also denied by Sandro's last-ditch clearance after fine work from Matheus on the right.
    Perhaps there will come a time when Sherwood finds that 4-4-2 is an inadvisable formation to use in Europe and that sometimes there is nothing wrong with applying the handbrake.
    Not yet, though. Seeking to overhaul Dnipro's 1-0 lead from the first leg, Sherwood opted for a no-frills approach. His team had pace and creativity in the wide positions, while Adebayor was partnered by Roberto Soldado in attack. However, aside from a foul inside the first 10 seconds, Soldado's impact was minimal.
    How Tottenham craved the presence of their greatest ever scorer in Europe. However, a hamstring injury denied Jermain Defoe a valedictory appearance before he heads off to FC Toronto and he had to settle for an emotional farewell interview on the pitch at half-time. Sherwood later said he wished Defoe could have returned to whip up the crowd, who had little to cheer in a bitty, tetchy first half.
    For Ramos, the sight of Tottenham struggling for inspiration was a familiar feeling. He was famously sacked after Tottenham picked up two points from their first eight games in 2007-08, eight months after he had led them to the League Cup. Ramos also won the Uefa Cup twice with Sevilla. He is no mug.
    His Dnipro side could play, too. Although they were happy to soak up the aimless pressure in the first half, they were slick on the break and Konoplyanka was a constant thorn in Kyle Naughton's side. Matheus's speed was also a threat.
    Dnipro took the lead after 47 minutes. Ruslan Rotan's delivery with a free-kick from the left was exquisite and Zozulya's header beat Lloris, who could not keep it out despite getting a hand to the ball.
    Tottenham could have slumped after conceding an away goal, but their response was magnificent. First Soldado was denied an equaliser by an offside flag, before Eriksen gave Tottenham a lifeline by bending a low free-kick inside Denys Boyko's right post after 55 minutes.
    Konoplyanka then sent a precise shot against the left post from 20 yards, before Zozulya pressed the self-destruct button after 62 minutes. He had been bickering with Vertonghen throughout and eventually snapped before a Tottenham free-kick. Ramos thought the referee, Antony Gautier, was a "bit strict" to show a red card and Dnipro also thought Soldado threw an elbow in the first half. "The guy stuck his nut in his nose so you've got no chance of staying on," Sherwood said. Vertonghen certainly made the most of it, but it was hard to defend Zozulya.
    The temperature was rising. Tottenham were rampant and they scored their second goal three minutes later. Eriksen was prominent again and his cross found Adebayor, who tapped past Boyko.
    Tottenham still needed one more goal and it arrived four minutes later, Adebayor chesting down Zeki Fryers' long ball and finishing confidently. Never in doubt.
    TG

    Second Division Clash

    Farage and Clegg to debate EU
    UKIP leader Nigel Farage is to challenge Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg in an EU debate that experts have described as ‘completely unwatchable’.
    Farage laid out the challenge after Nick Clegg said that UKIP policies on the EU wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny, forcing people to take sides in a debate in which they’d like to see both sides lose.
    Politics fan Simon Williams told us, “Oooh, a debate between a man I don’t like and one I don’t trust about something I care little about – yes, I think I’ll give that a miss.”
    “Remind me when it happens so I can remember to be out.”
    “Unless they’re going to spice it up a bit for TV, maybe add in some electric shocks or other physical harm for answers they give that the audience don’t like?”
    “In which case, sign me, put me in the front row and give me a button linked to a generator and their testicles.”

    Farage Clegg EU debate

    UKIP supporters have welcomed the opportunity for their leader to say “Europe bad, boooo!” as many times as possible on national television.
    UKIP fan Michael James told us, “Europe is rubbish, booo! And I hope Nigel Farage gets the chance to say this lots and lots of times.”
    Former Lib Dem supporter Jane Simpkins told us, “At this point, I think securing a debate against Nigel Farage must rank as a success for Nick Clegg.”
    “I suppose viewers can look forward lots of earnest stares into the camera, and promises he has no intention of keeping, whilst Farage probably just throws Union Jack darts at a map of the EU.”
    NT

    Useful Thai Visa Info

    Initially thought this was spam but recognised the sender, whom we used for our recent visa run.  Ignore some of the spelling/grammar, it's not his first language and it's a fine effort.

    Dear friends,
    We are pleased to provide latest info re Visa Run Services, we would
    like to say thank you if you have used our services. Further questions
    please contact me under 081-8154803 directly. Do not believe people
    who claim to be able to send your passport outside Thailand to obtain
    Immigration stamps without you, most likely you will end up with fake
    stamps from Thai-Malaysia border.

    1.)Daily Visa Run to Ban Laem/Cambodia, we offer Saturday and Sunday ,
    early tips at 1.30am. During the week the first trip is at 5am.
    Regular meeting is still 6.30am and  departure latest 6.45am. There is
    no limit for the 30/15day runs. The border is open EVERY DAY 6am to
    10pm. Since 1st November 2013 following countries get 30 day at land
    borders: USA, UK, France, Canada, Germany, Italy and Japan.
    2.)Vientiane/Laos, apply for Tourist and Non Immigrant Visa, we go,
    usually,  Sunday and Wednesday night,  departing  8pm from the corner
    Tesco/Lotus ON NUT parking lot, next BTS Station ON NUT,  just beneath
    the huge Tesco advertisement board.
     Tourist Visa, you are not required to show additional  documents
    (air ticket/ hotel booking). Refusal: the consular staff will review
    visually your current passport and count the numbers of Thai visas you
    had, regardless of what kind of visa, when or where the visas were
    issued. There is no fix rule, but it appears the maximum is 2 to 3
    previous Double Entry Tourist Visa. Filipino can apply Single Entry
    Tourist only.
     Non Immigrant Visa B and ED application require the WP3letter/LOA
    from Ministry of Labor or Education.  For Non O Marriage Visa you need
    to show them the Original Marriage Contract and a written Letter from
    your wife, that is in addition to her signed copy of ID-card,Tabien
    Ban(Blue Book) and Marriage Contract.
    3.)Savannakhet/Laos, it is a option for Westerners to apply for Double
    Entry Tourist and Multiple Entry Marriage Visas, however we have no
    trips. DIY, via bus to Mukdahan and than cross to Laos . Savan Vegas
    do not offer the Visa service anymore.
    4.)Phnom Penh/Cambodia, we keep close contact through our Cambodian
    partners, but for the time being we can not offer a trip. If you
    travel by yourself it is possible to obtain a Single Entry Thai
    Tourist Visa, usually require a 2 nights waiting, My former staff, Mr.
    Lay, can assist you during your stay in Phnom Penh, contact:
    tem_saray@yahoo.com , or call +855 17520013,  local call 017-520013 or
    097-7520013.
    5.)Yangoon/Mynamar, recent reports indicate that they will issue
    Double Entry Thai Tourist Visa, we shall keep you posted.
    6.)Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia, it is still possible to apply Single Entry
    Thai Tourist Visa there.
    7.)Denpasar/Bali, the friendly Consul will issue Double n even Triple
    Entry Thai Tourist Visa, however you need to show air tickets and
    wait 2 nights, his email: rtcdps@yahoo.com, and after  Jan 1, 2013
    they will be at Jl.Permuda 2 No.9 Renon Denpasar Bali, in the back of
    Japanese consulate. Visas are valid for 6month, means you could stay
    in Thailand up to 270days.
    8.)Common mistakes, Thai Tourist Visa from Laos , both entries must be
    used within 3 months after date of issue(see the enter before date
    shown on the visa). Each entry allow you  to stay  for 60 days and  is
    extendable, each entry, by 30 days, but since Visa  has a  3 month
    validity only, you may have to leave  before the first 60+30 comes to
    an end, OTHERWISE you loose your 2nd entry.
    9.)OTHERS SERVICES: We offer  various options. FYI, we deal directly
    with issuing person,  no long wait anymore and better prices . Medical
    extension, 30day=THB 9,000.- , 60day= THB 12,000.-, 90day extension
    for THB 14,000.- . Just need Passport and 2 ID-pictures a week before
    your current visa expires.
    10.)Yearly Visa Over 50 Years of age,  we assist with  Non Immigrant
    Visa O "Retirement",  the change from a Tourist Visa or visa exempt
    stamp, will cost you THB 22,000.-.  In the first year  you  will get
    15month. Need passport and 2 ID-pictures a week before current
    extension expires. Our lawyer will prepare all paperwork for the
    successful application. You just do the 90day report at Thai
    Immigration, no visa runs required, the 90day report is free. It is
    not possible to obtain a Non Immigrant B for the time being.
    11.)Yearly extension on existing Non Immigrant Visa O Retirement, our
    offer THB 18,000.-, we need Passport and 2 ID-pictures a week before
    your current extension  expires. You just do the 90day report at Thai
    Immigration.
    12.) Yearly Visa Under  50 Years of age,  we assist with  Non
    Immigrant Visa ED Student,  the change from a Tourist Visa or visa
    exempt stamp, will cost you THB 35,000.-.  In the first year  you
    will get 15month. Need passport and 2 ID-pictures 3 weeks before
    current extension expires. Our lawyer will prepare all paperwork for
    the successful application. You just do the 90day report at Thai
    Immigration, no visa runs required, the 90day report is free.
    13.)Yearly extension on existing Non Immigrant Visa ED Study Visa, our
    offer THB 23,000.-, we need Passport and 2 ID-pictures 3 weeks before
    your current extension  expires. You just do the 90day report at Thai
    Immigration.
    14.)Non Immigrant ED (Study) Visa, this is our second option , to
    avoid any misunderstanding the quoted price from the Language school
    is only the Tuition fee. The schools charges for one year tuition
    THB17,000.-(no study) After you sign up and have paid the fee you will
    get the documents for a Non ED application in Laos, trip and visa cost
    THB 3,800.-(Filipino) or THB6,400.-(Farang). You also have to pay for
    3 extensions, each 3month, at Thai Immigration THB1,900.-. Future
    yearly extensions can be done for THB23,000.-.