Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Ta to Au P

The England football team have arranged a friendly against Iceland.

If they get a good result they will then play Asda, Waitrose and Tesco-Lotus.

Back to Bhumi

The Coke price index.

A Zero at 7-11 in Chiang Mai costs us THB 14.

The same in Tesco-Lotus in BKK is THB 12.50.

At BKK's Bhumi airport before going through security/Immigration to the boarding gates it's THB 17.

Inside it's THB 50...

Survarnabhumi Airport

A complete bastard to remember how to spell correctly but one of our favourite airports as it's Bangkok's.

They have just pledged to reduce waiting times at Immigration to 28 minutes or less (no idea why not 25 or 30 minutes, but that's Thailand for you) in an effort to get their airport into the world's top ten.  I hope they succeed as it will help their economy and tourism business, but from personal experience we've never had outrageous delays- so far.

Greedy Gets

Hailed a tuk-tuk driver to take us to the big shopping mall a short drive away and he said he wanted THB 100 as it "was a long way away".  I couldn't be arsed to get involved in a haggling bout for a few Baht and reluctantly agreed.

Less than 10 minutes later we'd arrived...

Wifey gets Joe, her usual driver (he had the day off today) at THB 100 an hour.

Then on the way back the taxi driver wanted THB 120- the same cost as coming from the airport so we declined his polite offer and instead took a communal taxi/bus service which dropped us directly outside the hotel for THB 20 a head.

I can't wait to get back to the BTS in BKK where this minefield is easily avoided.

Take Two

A beauty queen has been stripped of her crown as Miss Cornwall after contest organisers discovered she had lied about her age and was actually from Devon.

More at TTel.

THE winner of the Miss Cornwall beauty contest has been stripped of the title after he turned out to be from Devon.

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Tiverton's Bar Rafaeli
Bill McKay, 38, claimed he was from Truro but actually lives in Tiverton.

McKay, an unemployed pipe fitter, was due to represent the county in the finals of the Miss England contest in August. He has now returned the £2000 prize money and a 12 month modelling contract.

He said: "It was a foolish mistake, but when I only got as far as the third qualifying round of Miss Devon I was desperate to keep my dream alive.

"I put a false address on the form and I also ticked the box confirming that I have only ever had one set of grandparents.

"Even then I didn't think I would win. There are some really lovely looking blokes in Cornwall."

Event organiser Roy Hobbs said it was the biggest shock to hit the Miss Cornwall contest since 1977, when it was won by a woman.

He added: "Oh, she was a corker. Graceful, elegant and with thick, hairy arms and a strong moustache.

"I loved her so, but she was already betrothed to her uncle Brian. I'll never forget you Fern Britton."

The Miss Cornwall crown will be transferred to first runner up Wayne Hayes, a mackerel wiper from Padstow, while the second prize now goes to a six year-old Great Dane called Ian.

DMash.

Facing the Music

A health minister, who is responsible for NHS finance and performance, said he was “staggered” to hear that Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford (Mid Essex Hospitals Trust*) is offering £1 000 a day for a “Turnaround Director”.

The job is for a six month minimum contract but totals £261 000 if the successful candidate works a year of five day weeks and the ad states:

“In light of the pressures the NHS are facing, our client requires a Turnaround Director with a strong financial background to lead on a number of efficiency and cost saving measures. As an Interim, you will be instrumental to conceptualising and delivering these savings.” 

The minister said:

“I am staggered to learn of plans to appoint a Turnaround Director to look into efficiency issues and cost savings measures at a salary of £1,000 per day – which is significantly higher than the Prime Minister’s salary.

I am seeking an immediate justification from the Chief Executive of the MEHT* as to what is going on and why the decision has been taken to appoint this new staff member.” 

I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation...

Bottomless Pit

The majority of Germans want to scrap the EU's single currency and bring back their beloved Deutschmark amid popular anger that Germany has bailed the euro zone out to the tune over £100 billion.

More than 51% of Germans want to axe the Euro after widespread fury that Germany's taxpayers have been forced to come to the rescue of Greece and other high spending southern European countries.

With a figure of £100 billion, I'd not be well chuffed either.

More at TTel.

£100 000 of Footwear

Prince Charming

Pairs of "designer" stiletto shoes which are made from solid gold and diamonds have gone on sale in the UK for £100 000.

The Eternal Diamond Stiletto was created by bespoke jewellers House of Borgezie to be the most extravagant pair of shoes ever created.  Each pair (only made to order) are decorated with over 2 000 brilliant cut diamonds (30 carats) and are shaped out of solid gold by experienced jewellers.

Makers say the design was inspired by the "elegant stamens of a lily" and each shoe comes with a 1 000 year guarantee.

WoW?

Only Here For the Beer

More than half of Brits feel so stressed at the end of their working day they turn to alcohol to relax, it has been found, after a survey of over 3 000 employees discovered one in ten feel stressed out before they even start work and 6% say they feel stressed all the time.

A third claimed to have called in sick because they were feeling stressed and 12% said they had quit a job altogether.  57% also said they had recently felt the need for a beer or a glass of wine when they got home to get over their day.

And the other half of the population just like to drink to get thoroughly rat-arsed 'cos at least that's something the Brits do well...

Afters

A spectacular 300 dish dessert banquet believed to have been served to Queen Elizabeth over 400 years ago has been recreated.

Bosses at Kenilworth Castle decided to reproduce the £foodfest", originally served at the castle by Sir Robert Dudley in 1575, as part of their summer celebrations.

The meal took 700 man hours to research and create in authentic detail and was presented on a massive banquet table dressed with towering sugar sculptures.  It was then served to members of the public.

I do not understand the mentality of doing this now, when everyone is supposed to be cutting back and tightening their belts.  Sorry, but the timing on this questionable attempt at publicity sucks. 

DMash

FOOTBALL chiefs are to consider a reduction in the number of spray-tan trollops that top-flight players have to wheelbarrow in a motorway hotel.

Image
Should the Carling Cup be reduced to just three rounds of grubby sluts?
As the England squad arrived back from South Africa, officials said the players were tired after a long season of driving their childish cars to the High Wycombe Travelodge for wanton, beer-fuelled intercourse with wave upon wave of ghastly, fake-titted ultra-skanks.

An insider said: "We need to take a fresh look at the league schedule and see if during European Championship and World Cup years we can finish the season that bit earlier so the players are not still chin-deep in filthy, fame-hungry little strumpets come the middle of May.

"When you add the league campaign, the FA and Carling Cups and European club competitions, the last thing a player needs is more than, say, 30 blonde, pox-ridden floozies homing in on him like he's a big, stupid bastard with too much money."

But leading figures in the game have dismissed skank-rationing as too difficult to police and insist it would be much simpler to identify a new generation of promising young players and then hack their testicles off.

Former England manager Graham Taylor said: "They could keep some sperm in a little cup so they're still able to start a family when they retire from international football.

"In the meantime we'd have a world class squad full of alert, focused eunuchs, all with that extra bit of pace because they won't have a big, annoying scrotum continually getting in the way."

Meanwhile Fifa president Sepp Blatter has apologised to England for Frank Lampard's goal being disallowed, adding: "And that's the same apology I gave to your mommas last night."

Fifa has also confirmed that a number of items were taken from the England players' rooms on Sunday, including underwear, a medal and a Fisher Price Play Centre.
A source said: "I'm sure that whoever stole Wayne Rooney's underpants will now realise that all the money in the world is no substitute for a lesson in basic personal hygiene."

If it Ain't Broke...

The Software Publishing Association estimates that on average the chance of a software patch causing crashes or serious compatibility problems is seven times greater than the likelihood of running into the bug or security issue which the patch was intended to fix.

Truth Hurts

Can English football ever adapt?

I heard a funny story about how English football works (muddles through, more like) the other day.
Back in 2003 the FA was getting Fabio Capello-sized stick from all quarters about its disciplinary procedures.

Some clubs were angry about how long it took for punishments to be dished out, others were annoyed when rivals played the system to ensure their stars would be eligible for big games, the international authorities wanted automatic suspensions, the players demanded a right of appeal and the men from the counties viewed any talk of change as another assault on their place at the heart of the national game. Only the lawyers were happy, being paid silly sums for straightforward work.

Slow, easy to circumnavigate, amateurish and bad value for money - sounds like England's defensive display against Germany, doesn't it?

But I don't tell this story for the easy gag, I tell it because it illustrates why changing anything in English football is so hard, frustrating and ultimately underwhelming. Too many competing agendas, too many self-interested voices.

So forgive me if I don't get too excited about the result of the soul-searching that has just commenced. We are past masters at the impressive-looking policy document, po-faced press conference and never-again declaration of intent, it is mastering passes we struggle with.

Howard Wilkinson was on BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday. It was a great interview - passionate but informed, dismayed but measured.

He explained how he had written a report for the FA which said English football needed to devote more resources to youth development, spend more time on technical skills, build a national football centre and prepare for a future when 4-4-2 will be obsolete.


gerrard595.jpg 
Gerrard looked uncomfortable on the left of Capello's 4-4-2 at times during the World Cup

Wilkinson wrote that report, the Charter for Quality, in 1997. English football still does not have enough coaches, still places too much importance on results at youth level, still lacks a national football centre and still defaults to 4-4-2 under pressure.

Seven years later, after England's defeat at Euro 2004, the FA held another internal review. Questions were asked about the access an England manager has to his players, the importance of friendly matches and the danger of playing too much club football. No change there, then.

In 2005, following more turmoil at the governing body, we had another review, this time looking at the FA's structure. Lord Burns flagged up the conflicts of interest, a lack of representation for key groups and the excessive influence of the Premier League. Among his remedies were the creation of a "parliament of football" and three independent members on the FA board. We are still waiting.

In 2007, it was time to look at English football's youth development system, again. Rugby league boss Richard Lewis was called in and he suggested a number of tweaks to the academy network born from Wilkinson's charter. The most important of those, genuine FA involvement in the clubs' youth set-ups, was fudged.

A year later England would fail to qualify for Euro 2008 and "root and branch" reforms were the promised response. But what we got was the public humiliation of an over-promoted coach, his replacement by the most expensive manager money could buy and...erm, that's it.

Fabio Capello, a man who the FA had looked at when it seemed Sven-Goran Eriksson was off to Chelsea but ruled out because of his lack of international experience and inability to speak English, was now the answer. The only answer.

That's the English response: big talk about far-reaching reforms and thinking the unthinkable, before bottling it and going for the quick fix. Over in Germany, however, they do things a bit differently...they actually do things.

Having suffered the "humiliation" of losing to Croatia in the quarter-finals of World Cup 1998 and failing to get out of the group stages of Euro 2000 (compounded by a 1-0 defeat to a mediocre England), the bosses at the German FA sat down with their counterparts at the Bundesliga and came up with a plan: a 500m-euro investment in youth.

As a result, Germany has almost 13 times as many qualified coaches as England, more home-grown talent playing in its top league (Europe's most profitable) and a crop of young players who have now beaten England 4-0 in the 2009 European U-21 Final and 4-1 at the 2010 World Cup.

Does anybody think the response to England's latest crisis will be as bold, coherent and effective?
Thanks to a rare moment of common sense and leadership, the FA actually sorted out the disciplinary procedure problem in 2003.

The clubs got quicker/more consistent rulings, the players kept their right to appeal, Fifa/Uefa were placated by the reduced timeframe and the amateurs lost their say on professional cases but got back the blazers that an earlier FA regime had taken away - £25,000 being a small price to pay for keeping the peace.

If only assembling an England squad capable of winning a tournament was so easy. Delivering one of those in time for the 2018 World Cup will cost more like £250m and the clock is ticking.

Sensible piece at the BBC.

Crunch Games Begin

Short of Germany v Argentina in the quarter finals, the first round on Friday's match, Holland v Brazil doesn't get much tougher.  It will be a difficult game to call, but Brazil will shade it and I fancy Uruguay to nudge out the Africans.

Saturday's game is not going to be fun, is it?  :-(

The Blame Game

From The Independent:


England wakes up to a new national sport: the blame game

Flags are at half mast, replica shirts going cheap, and recriminations beginning

They have become the predictable rituals of defeat – predictable that is to English football fans. For the eighth time since 1966, those unfortunate enough by dint of birth or otherwise to be associated with Fabio Capello's tarnished "Golden Generation" were left to ruminate on what might have been and work out whom to blame.

The brutal puncturing of over-inflated national expectations by a superior opponent was relieved only by indignation at being cheated by flawed officialdom. But such feelings can only be fleeting. For it was quickly the turn of the manager, the players, and then the blazer-wearing grandees who run the national game to feel the righteous wrath of a vengeful public and a furious media.

The choreography of failure began even before the under-performing millionaire players boarded the luxuriously appointed team bus – bearing the cruelly ironic slogan "Playing with Pride and Glory" – for the journey back from the cosseted boredom of their state-of-the-art preparation facility in the South African veld. The Sun had set up a "Rant Line" for angry fans; the Daily Mail's Richard Littlejohn invoked the spirit of 1940. "Thank Heaven The Few didn't defend as badly as England's footballers in Bloemfontein yesterday afternoon, otherwise we'd all be speaking German," he wrote.

At Downing Street, over which an England flag had flown for the duration of the team's involvement in the tournament, the Cross of St George had been lowered by first light. Across the country, meanwhile, plastic flags which had adorned white vans, taxis and bedroom windows were on their way to the landfill.

The scale of the nation's disappointment was confirmed by overnight viewing figures which showed a peak television audience of 19.5m had tuned in to watch England lose to Germany 4-1 on the BBC. Early exit means a premature end to the consumer bonanza which surrounds a modern World Cup campaign in which everything from face paint to lager and cars – not to mention the players themselves – is relentlessly marketed. Only employers and working parents were able to breathe a small sigh of relief as the epidemic of absenteeism and early school closures drew to a close

Yet speaking at the post-tournament press conference, Capello appeared unfazed by suggestions he might be to blame for his team's showing. Shrugging as if puzzled, he said he had spoken to the Club England chairman, Sir Dave Richards, who would now have two weeks to decide the fate of the man whose services had so recently been secured with an enhanced £6m-a-year contract.

The deal makes it even harder for the national sport's cash-strapped governing body to relieve Capello and his entourage of their duties preparing the team for what promises to be a toxic homecoming friendly in August at Wembley Stadium.

Capello insisted he wanted to stay and said he had turned down offers from top clubs to lead England. He blamed what he saw as the punishing Premiership regime and called for a winter break so that future England teams would not be so "tired". "We spoke also about the players that can play for the next qualification and I know what I have to do," he said.

He also sought to lay the blame at the hands of Sunday's match officials – Jorge Larrionda and his assistant Mauricio Espinosa – who failed to spot that Frank Lampard's first-half shot had crossed the line. Around the time Capello was facing the media, the two Fifa officials were passing through Bloemfontein airport.

The England supporters, many of whom spent thousands of pounds to follow their team, were now leaving South Africa with praise ringing in their ears – in stark contrast to the team. Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt, leading the UK police delegation, said he had feared there might be trouble. "I'm massively impressed by the way England fans have reacted to their disappointment," he said. "We've not had any trouble whatsoever. Given the manner of the defeat and the score, I was expecting it might be quite tense after the game."

To add to their humiliation, it emerged yesterday that staff at the England squad's complex had helped themselves to players' possessions, including their pants. Local police said the stolen souvenirs also included shirts and a medal.

You don't have to be German to be pleased ...

The Winners

Bookmakers
Alongside estate agents and MPs, this is one of Britain's most hated professions, making millions of pounds from England's defeat. Not that it will bother them... Ladbrokes said about £25m of bets were placed on Sunday's match, with a spokesman adding that around 70/30 went for England as "the patriotic punt – people betting with their hearts over their heads".

Retailers
On Saturday afternoons, there are two places to find a significant minority of Britons: the pub or the shopping centre. So naturally retailers are thrilled that England will no longer be playing on Saturday, traditionally their busiest day of the week. Matt Chambers, brand director at House of Fraser, is delighted landlords will be pulling fewer pints while a few more of his tills will be ringing. "It would have been a big one on Saturday," he said. "So now we'll definitely see more people in store."

Goal-line technology manufacturers
After that Frank Lampard non-goal "goal", FIFA's aversion to using basic goal-line technology (as employed in tennis, cricket and rugby) once again faces fierce scrutiny in the papers and the nation's pubs. This can only help manufacturers such as Hawk Eye Innovations, above, – who already provide the products for tennis and cricket. It boosts their case that their technology should be used in future World Cups. Hawk Eye Operations Director Stephen Carter said: "We have a system that has been tested and passes all of FIFA's criteria. Often getting a call wrong in a big game can lead governing bodies to act. We found that with tennis, so we're hopeful that it will happen [with football]."

The All England Club
Demoted from televisions, despite staging the sport's longest-ever match, Wimbledon officials – and some spectators – will politely rejoice in the national football team's exit. The All England Club expects more people to queue to buy tickets on Saturday, when England would have been playing, while TV viewing figures will be boosted by the lack of competition, particularly if Andy Murray progresses in the championship this week. The BBC confirmed that Wimbledon TV viewing figures in 2006 were affected by England's better performance in that summer's World Cup.

Flag manufacturers
Fans switching their allegiance to new teams have been rushing to buy other countries' flags. Manufacturer Greens of Gloucestershire say there has already been a surge in demand for Ghanaian flags, right, with sales up 20 per cent since Sunday's match.

Sky
Will be glad that England's involvement in the whole affair – which it couldn't screen – is over. Sick of seeing the BBC rack up audiences of between 10 million and 19.5 million for live matches (the latter for the England v Germany clash). It can't wait until the resumption of the domestic football season.

Dearly beloved...
For thousands of couples, their big day will now take rightful precedence over the big match. Months ago England fan Tancred Lidbury, 27, and his bride-to-be Lucy Musgrave, 28, booked their wedding in a rural Northamptonshire church for this Saturday, not realising that England might be playing in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Lidbury said: "It was obviously my big day so I wasn't really bothered – well, I say that – but the match was going to be while we were still in the church and we didn't want people cheering in there. Our plan to appease people was to get the MC to announce the speeches and add: 'Oh, by the way, it's still 0-0'. I don't think Lucy was too keen on that."
Kath Stackley, who is also getting married this Saturday afternoon, says her husband-to-be is relieved not to be missing the action on the pitch.
"He said he'd never missed a single World Cup game and it was a statement of how much he loved me," she said. "So he's pretty relieved."

Out & About in Chiang Mai

Night Market

We also managed to find the huge night market yesterday and it really is massive.  As the girls were a little tired after their sight seeing during the day, we didn't do the place true justice and will be going back tonight to have a proper look around.

There really is so much to see and do in Chiang Mai.

Day Out

Wifey and m-i-l said they  wanted to go to see the hot springs and a craft fair yesterday and I didn't fancy it.  Figured they'd be gone around 3 hours max and we'd all go out to lunch on their return.

Seven hours later they've been having the time of her life with a comprehensive tour of all most there is to see around the area, including a  leather workshop, silk farm, traditional umbrella craft works, precious jewellery manufacturer, the healing springs and finally the famous temple up the mountain.

They had a marvellous time.  :o)

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Chiang Mai in Pictures

But you'll need to visit our page at Flickr.  Enjoy.

In Lego & In German!

Parnanoia Down Under

More than half of British holidaymakers take a taste of home with them when they go abroad, a survey by Which? Holiday reveals.  The tea bag tops the list, with a third packing some, while a fifth take coffee and 17% stow away their favourite sweets.

A total of 56% polled by took some food or drink on their last holiday and 5% even took Marmite.

Women were more likely than men to take supplies with them and those under 55 were keener on packing foodstuffs for overseas visits than older holidaymakers.

I wonder what they do when they try to get into Australia?

Following in Our Footsteps

Britons will be better off financially by holidaying in Bulgaria than Brighton, according to a new survey, and holiday hotspots in Turkey and Cyprus are also cheaper for a UK family of four.  A week in the Bulgarian capital Sofia would cost a family of four £1 221, a seven night break in Brighton would set them back £2 209.

Also less costly than a week in Brighton were 7 night stays in Bodrum in Turkey, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Limassol in Cyprus, Budapest in Hungary and Warsaw in Poland.  The most-expensive destination in the 14 countries surveyed was Reykjavik in Iceland where a week-long stay would cost £3 383.

DESTINATION TOTAL COSTS (£)

Reykjavik, Iceland 3 383
Rome 2 836
Barcelona 2 375
Dubrovnik, Croatia 2 333
Nice, France 2 320
Faro, Portugal 2 262
Athens 2 054
Brighton 2 209
Bodrum, Turkey 1 819
Ljubljana, Slovenia 1 750
Limassol, Cyprus 1 739
Budapest 1 455
Warsaw, Poland 1 315
Sofia, Bulgaria 1 221

It's funny seeing so many places being named that we've already been too, but we certainly didn't pay anywhere near as much as that.  Even Brighton was cheaper.




The holiday costs in the survey included the price of accommodation, car hire, meals out, beach accessories, suntan lotion and visits to theme parks.

Road Names

Properties located on "hills" and "lanes" are worth 50% more than national average, while "streets" and "terraces" have the lowest average property values across Britain.  The survey found that the highest value properties in the country were found on "hills", where average house prices stood at £341 466, well above the national average.

Other street names at the top of the list included "lanes" where average home values were £328 378, "mews" at £294 869, "parks", where the average price was £283 069, and "greens" at £269 861.

At the other end of the spectrum, the average property on a "street" in Britain was valued at £155 515, less than half than the value of a home on a "hill" and well below the national average, the survey found.

"Terraces" fared only marginally better than "streets" in the rankings, with an average value of £156 387. Also in the bottom five were "crescents", with average property prices of £176 942, "courts", at £178 488, and "views", where the average property was worth £184 546.

The report also uncovered the most common street names in Britain. The most common residential location name by far was "road", with 144 322 of them across the UK. The next most common was "close" (98 778), followed by 58 637 "streets".

There were three times as many "roads" as "avenues" (47 488) and three times as many "avenues" as "terraces" (16 532). The least common location names within the top 20 were "square" (3 859) and "mews" (4 825).

From TTel.

Spies Like Us

The United States have apparently cracked an alleged Russian spy ring, announcing the arrest of 10 "deep-cover" suspects after unravelling a mission secretly monitored by the FBI for more than a TTel offers us a list of the world's most famous spies:

Mata Hari
Mata Hari was the stage-name for Dutch-born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, an exotic dancer and high class prostitute in Paris. Through her line of work, Mata Hari mixed with the upper class and became a courtesan to many high-ranking military men and politicians, putting her in a very good position to gather information and pass it to the Germans during the First World War.
In January, 1917, the German Military Attache in Madrid sent an encoded radio signal to Berlin, stating that they were receiving excellent information from a German spy codenamed H-21. French intelligence intercepted the messages and were able to identify H-21 as Mata Hari. On February 13, 1917, Mata Hari was arrested in her Paris hotel room. She was subsequently tried for espionage and found guilty. She was executed by Firing Squad on the 15th of September, 1917 at the age of 41.
 
The Cambridge Five
The Cambridge Five was a ring of spies in the UK who passed information to the Soviet Union during the Second World War, and at least into the early 1950s. It has been suggested they may also have passed Soviet disinformation to the Nazis. Four members of the ring have been conclusively identified: Kim Philby (cryptonym: Stanley), Donald Duart Maclean (cryptonym: Homer), Guy Burgess (cryptonym: Hicks) and Anthony Blunt (cryptonym: Johnson); together they are known as the Cambridge Four. Several people have been suspected of being the "fifth man", but John Cairncross (cryptonym: Liszt) was identified by Oleg Gordievsky.
Several others beyond these five have also been accused of being members. Their name refers to the fact that all members became committed Communists while attending Cambridge University in the 1930s.
 
Aldrich Ames
Ames is a former CIA Counter-intelligence Officer who was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union in 1994. On his first assignment as a case officer, he was stationed in Ankara, Turkey, where his job was to target Soviet intelligence officers for recruitment. Due to financial problems, Ames began spying for the Soviet Union in 1985, when he walked into the Soviet Embassy in Washington to offer secrets for money. The information he supplied to the Soviets lead to the compromise of at least 100 CIA agents and to the execution of at least 10. Ames used the money to live well beyond his means as a CIA agent.
In early 1985, the CIA began to notice that they were losing their "assets" at a very rapid rate. For unknown reasons they were not willing, in the early stages, to believe that they had been infiltrated by the KGB, instead presuming the leak to be via bugging devices. When the FBI were finally brought in to investigate, Ames became the primary suspect. Fearing he would defect on a CIA trip to Russia, The FBI arrested him at the airport with his wife. He was given a life sentence and is incarcerated in the US Penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.
 
Klaus Fuchs
Fuchs was a German-born theoretical physicist who worked in Los Alamos on the atom bomb project. He was responsible for many significant theoretical calculations relating to the first fission weapons and early models of the hydrogen bomb. Whilst attending university in Germany, Fuchs became involved with the Communist Party of Germany. After a run-in with the newly installed Nazi government, he fled to England where he earned his PhD in physics. For a short time he worked on the British atomic bomb project.
It was while he was working for the British that he began to give information to the Soviets. He reasoned that they had the right to know what the British and the Americans were developing. In 1943 he was transferred to the United States to assist on the Manhattan project. From 1944 he worked in New Mexico at Los Alamos.
For two years he gave his KGB contacts theoretical plans for building a hydrogen bomb. He also provided key data on the production of uranium 235, allowing the Soviets to determine the number of bombs possessed by the United States. On his return to the United Kingdom in 1946, he was interrogated as a result of the cracking of some Soviet ciphers. He was tried and sentenced to fourteen years in prison, the maximum term under British law for passing military secrets to a friendly nation. He was released after nine years and immediately moved to Germany where he lived out the remainder of his life.
 
Belle Boyd
Isabella Marie Boyd, known as Cleopatra of the Secession, was a Confederate spy in the American Civil War. She operated from her father's hotel in Virginia and provided valuable information to Confederate general Stonewall Jackson in 1862.
Her espionage career began by chance when a band of Union army soldiers saw the Confederate flag hung outside her home. They tore it down and hung a Union flag in its place. Belle retaliated, shooting one of the men. As punishment, sentries were posted around her house and officers kept close track of her activities. She profited from this enforced familiarity, charming at least one of the officers, Captain Daniel Keily, into revealing military secrets. Belle conveyed those secrets to Confederate officers via her slave, Eliza Hopewell, who carried the messages in a hollowed-out watch case. At one point, she eavesdropped when Union General James Shields and his staff who were gathered in the parlour of the local hotel. She learned that Shields had been ordered east from Front Royal, Virginia, a move that would reduce the Union Army's strength at Front Royal. That night, Belle rode through Union lines, using false papers to bluff her way past the sentries, and reported the news to Col. Turner Ashby, who was scouting for the Confederates. For her contributions, she was awarded the Southern Cross of Honor. Jackson also gave her captain and honorary aide-de-camp positions. But she was betrayed by her lover, and arrested in 1862. She was later freed and moved to England.
After the war, Belle Boyd became an actress in England before returning to the United States in 1869. She died of a heart attack at the age of 56.

Early Bath

A modern foot ball (manufactured after 1992) will be kicked an average of 17 143 times before being discarded.

Not if it's one of the training balls Team Eng-er-land use it won't be...  they're already on their way home.

Tuk-Tuk Hire

The girls are off with Joe their tuk-tuk driver for the morning going to see the natural springs and then onto a craft fair.  He's on the clock at THB 100 per hour (~£2) and has been keeping them entertained with his manic driving skills and broken English.

The guys here are great and what they may miss out on being able to speak English, they more than make up for in enthusiasm and genuine smiles.

Crusty Rolls

Another unusual marriage, a typical Irish bar (with typically inflated prices which is the norm around the world) but the local Molly Malones here also has a bakery contained within.

Superb rolls, breads and baguettes for cheaper than in Bangkok.

Open Air Washing

Walking around enjoy the new views, we came across a laundrette with a difference.  There were around a dozen washing machines all secured into metal frames under a makeshift tarpaulin "roof" on the pavement, advertising washes at THB 20 a go.  There were a row of driers sitting behind the washing machines too.

Yes, you can do your laundry al fresco here for 40 pence a time.  :o)

Poor Liddle Puddy Tat

Long or not, this was well worth the read.  Thanks to Au P for this laugh:

Hi David   
I opened the screen door yesterday and my cat got out and has been missing since then so I was wondering if you are not to busy you could make a poster for me. It has to be A4 and I will photocopy it and put it around my suburb this afternoon.



This is the only photo of her I have she answers to the name Missy and is black and white and about 8 months old. missing on Harper street and my phone number.
Thanks Shan.
From: David Thorne

Date: Monday 21 June 2010 9.26am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Poster

Dear Shannon,
That is shocking news. Luckily I was sitting down when I read your email and not half way up a ladder or tree. How are you holding up? I am surprised you managed to attend work at all what with thinking about Missy out there cold, frightened and alone... possibly lying on the side of the road, her back legs squashed by a vehicle, calling out "Shannon, where are you?"
Although I have two clients expecting completed work this afternoon, I will, of course, drop everything and do whatever it takes to facilitate the speedy return of Missy.
Regards, David.

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 9.37am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Poster

yeah ok thanks. I know you dont like cats but I am really worried about mine. I have to leave at 1pm today.
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.17am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Poster

Dear Shannon,
I never said I don't like cats. Once, having been invited to a party, I went clothes shopping beforehand and bought a pair of expensive G-Star boots. They were two sizes too small but I wanted them so badly I figured I could just wear them without socks and cut my toenails very short. As the party was only a few blocks from my place, I decided to walk. After the first block, I lost all feeling in my feet. Arriving at the party, I stumbled into a guy named Steven, spilling Malibu & coke onto his white Wham 'Choose Life' t-shirt, and he punched me. An hour or so after the incident, Steven sat down in a chair already occupied by a cat. The surprised cat clawed and snarled causing Steven to leap out of the chair, slip on a rug and strike his forehead onto the corner of a speaker; resulting in a two inch open gash. In its shock, the cat also defecated, leaving Steven with a foul stain down the back of his beige cargo pants. I liked that cat.
Attached poster as requested.
Regards, David.



From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.24am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

yeah thats not what I was looking for at all. it looks like a movie and how come the photo of Missy is so small?
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.28am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

Dear Shannon,
It's a design thing. The cat is lost in the negative space.
Regards, David.

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.33am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

Thats just stupid. Can you do it properly please? I am extremely emotional over this and was up all night in tears. you seem to think it is funny. Can you make the photo bigger please and fix the text and do it in colour please. Thanks.
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.46am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

Dear Shannon,
Having worked with designers for a few years now, I would have assumed you understood, despite our vague suggestions otherwise, we do not welcome constructive criticism. I don't come downstairs and tell you how to send text messages, log onto Facebook and look out of the window. I am willing to overlook this faux pas due to you no doubt being preoccupied with thoughts of Missy attempting to make her way home across busy intersections or being trapped in a drain as it slowly fills with water. I spent three days down a well once but that was just for fun.
I have amended and attached the poster as per your instructions.
Regards, David.


From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.59am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

This is worse than the other one. can you make it so it shows the whole photo of Missy and delete the stupid text that says missing missy off it? I just want it to say Lost.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.14am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster


From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.21am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

yeah can you do the poster or not? I just want a photo and the word lost and the telephone number and when and where she was lost and her name. Not like a movie poster or anything stupid. I have to leave early today. If it was your cat I would help you. Thanks.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.32am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Awww

Dear Shannon,
I don't have a cat. I once agreed to look after a friend's cat for a week but after he dropped it off at my apartment and explained the concept of kitty litter, I kept the cat in a closed cardboard box in the shed and forgot about it. If I wanted to feed something and clean faeces, I wouldn't have put my mother in that home after her stroke. A week later, when my friend came to collect his cat, I pretended that I was not home and mailed the box to him. Apparently I failed to put enough stamps on the package and he had to collect it from the post office and pay eighteen dollars. He still goes on about that sometimes, people need to learn to let go.
I have attached the amended version of your poster as per your detailed instructions.
Regards, David.


From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.47am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Awww

Thats not my cat. where did you get that picture from? That cat is orange. I gave you a photo of my cat.
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.58am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Awww

I know, but that one is cute. As Missy has quite possibly met any one of several violent ends, it is possible you might get a better cat out of this. If anybody calls and says "I haven't seen your orange cat but I did find a black and white one with its hind legs run over by a car, do you want it?" you can politely decline and save yourself a costly veterinarian bill.
I knew someone who had a basset hound that had its hind legs removed after an accident and it had to walk around with one of those little buggies with wheels. If it had been my dog I would have asked for all its legs to be removed and replaced with wheels and had a remote control installed. I could charge neighbourhood kids for rides and enter it in races. If I did the same with a horse I could drive it to work. I would call it Steven.
Regards, David.

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.07pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Awww

Please just use the photo I gave you.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.22pm
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww


From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.34pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww

I didnt say there was a reward. I dont have $2000 dollars. What did you even put that there for? Apart from that it is perfect can you please remove the reward bit. Thanks Shan.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.42pm
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww


From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.51pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww

Can you just please take the reward bit off altogether? I have to leave in ten minutes and I still have to make photocopies of it.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.56pm
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww


From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 1.03pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww

Fine. That will have to do.

Actual Headlines

From Woman'sDay:

Hide and Go Seek
Guess the Australian Army can be a little proud of itself here. They may be incompetent enough to lose an entire truck, but at least they gave it a remarkable paint job.

M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I
The irony of this clip is obvious, but let’s be serious for a moment: How could anyone misspell this state’s name when learning its rhyme is as American as apple pie?

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right
We’ll speak for all women when we say "chick" is never a respectful term—even sarcastically. But at least they didn’t call her "honey," "baby," "sugar," "sweetie”…well, you get the picture.

Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other
This store’s customers can take comfort in knowing just how much the company wants to help save them money.

Laugh In
Rachel and Daniel really make a lovely couple. Let’s hope for their future kids’ sake they don’t choose to hyphenate.

Early Bird Special
When Grandma and Grandpa accepted the invitation to dinner, they probably didn’t realize they’d be on the menu.

Feeling Raw
Not only did deadly E. coli bacteria force this guy to resign—he couldn't even claim a job “well done.” Ba-dum-bum, ching!

A Wee Bit Insulting
The long and short of it: Sometimes you just have to wonder if newspaper editors do it on purpose.

Don't Drink the Water
Really? Um, yeah. We’ll pass. Probably not a good idea to risk it.

Follow Your Nose
We’ll give you one guess as to why the sewer smells.

Fivers Only

A network of cash machines that dispense only £5 notes has been rolled out, in a bid to introduce more fivers into circulation.

Good move, and it may even encourage people to spend less too.

More at TTel.

Diplomatic Immunity?

Foreign diplomats based in London owe more than £37 million in unpaid congestion charges, parking fines and non-domestic rates, new figures reveal.  In addition, dozens have been able to get away with crimes including sexual assault, threats to kill and actual bodily harm by claiming diplomatic immunity.

The United States was responsible for the highest level of unpaid fines, owing nearly £4 million for congestion charges dating back to 2003, followed by the Russians with more than £3 million and Japan on £2.77 million.

Going Down


275x250.jpgA slide has been installed in place of stairs at a Berlin subway to give fun-loving commuters quicker access to their train.

Unfortunately this isn't new German public transport policy but a marketing stunt by Volkswagen.

Their "Fun Theory" team set up the giant red slide next to the escalators inside Alexanderplatz Station.  They then stood back and watched to see how many people chose to use it rather than the traditional stairs of escalator.

Volkswagen say the scheme shows how people will voluntarily change their behaviour for the better if offered a fun way of doing it. 
 
They've certainly got that right- what a super idea.  :o)

From Newlite.

Team Eng-er-land's Coming Home

ENGLAND are heading home from the World Cup today after state-of-the-art video technology showed the ball crossing their goal line many, many times.

Image
The cameras clearly showed the ball crossing the line for the fourth time
As questions were raised over why the Uruguayan officials had spotted all four German goals, the specially positioned cameras around the Bloemfontein Stadium confirmed that England's 2010 squad will forever be remembered as the 'team that never was'.

The use of television has been a source of controversy in the sport, but experts insist it offers a fool-proof method for determining whether a team is good at football or whether it is simply a collection of absurdly over-compensated, second-rate commercial brands with ghastly, vulgar wives, locked in a sado-masochistic relationship with a cretinous media that merely reflects a society that has taken its natural intelligence, its sense of perspective and its values and violently drowned them all in a bucket of piss.

Professor Henry Brubaker of the Institute for Studies said: "The technology is very complex and involves cathode tubes, a large glass screen and pretty much an entire roll of tinfoil.

"The operator sits in front of the screen and if he or she sees one set of players concede goal after goal after goal after goal, the video images then help them to decide whether or not those players are good at football."

Back home England fans vented their fury at the technology, as Paul the Psychic Octopus predicted Fabia Capello would soon be receiving a cheque for £12m and moving to a country where people can understand what he's saying.

Roy Hobbs, a flurry of opinions from Stevenage, said: "Alan Hansen kept going on about how it could have been 20 or even 25-nil and that if he had done that at Liverpool, Bob Paisley would have slashed him across the arse with a machete.

"But I think it could easily have been 70 or even 290-nil. Unless of course Lampard's goal had counted, in which case England would have won 14-2."

Nathan Muir, from Hatfield, added: "Not a good day. And after Sebastian Vettel beat Lewis Hamilton in the grand prix, I half expected to come home and find my missus having a dirty bath with the lead singer of Boney M."

Meanwhile, central defender John Terry finally arrived back in England's 18-yard box last night only to find that everyone else had gone home.

He eventually got out of the stadium after climbing over a fence.


DMash.

Lost in Space

11% of the Internet domain names purchased this year will not be used.

Top Intro

Osborne to put coma patients to work as draft excluders

Osborne to put coma patients to work as draft excluders thumbnail
Chancellor George Osborne has outlined plans to cut incapacity benefit, insisting those capable of working should work, citing the example of coma patients who could easily take up gainful employment as draft excluders.

His comments come as the government seeks to make further inroads into the £155bn budget deficit, with those on incapacity benefits seen as an easy way to save a couple of billion a year.

He told reporters at the G20 summit in Toronto, “Sure, you might have a bad back, so you’re not going to be working as a handyman - but drug companies are always looking for people to test stuff on, and you are more than qualified for that.”

“This isn’t just about saving money, it’s about making people feel better about themselves by making a contribution to society - a contribution made by taking on a minimum wage job nobody else wants.”

Contribution

Osborne said that in these times of austerity, people with considerably less wealth than him would probably insist those people who are on incapacity benefit should be making some sort of contribution to society.

He continued, “I just don’t believe that all these people should stay at home being all incapacitated when they could be out there contributing to society as a drugs tester or one of those guys sat in a chair holding a ‘golf sale’ sign.

“Look at all those coma patients, what sort of middle class family wouldn’t want such an eco-friendly draft excluder? It’s all natural and 100% biodegradable.”

“It’s minimum wage work, granted, but it still means fewer benefits paid by the state, which is obviously a good thing.”

“Yes, there will be the odd beep or alarm from the equipment that follows your new draft excluder around, but this is nothing compared to sense of personal satisfaction experienced by the coma patient for the contribution they will now be making.”

“Probably.” 

NArse.

What Line?

Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda has this morning controversially insisted that Carlisle is actually still part of Scotland, after pointing out that at no stage did he see the Cumbrian city cross the line into England.

The announcement has shocked millions of people, for whom Carlisle is clearly a city in northern Cumbria, nearly ten miles across the line into England.

Referee Larrionda told reporters, “Just because tens of thousands residents, and several million map owners believe it to have crossed the line into England does not mean it is part of England.”

“The simple fact is that I did not see it go over the line into England and therefore it remains Scottish.”

FIFA

FIFA president Sepp Blatter backed his referee, insisting the use of technology to decide where towns are is not necessary for everyone to enjoy Geography.

He explained, “Just because we have the technology available to us does not mean we should use it to determine wither Carlisle is over the English line or not.”

“So what if we have GPS, satellite imagery and Google maps - is it not better to let a single fallible individual decide the fate of thousands and thousands of people?  Hmm?”

“Sure, if we showed him a GPS readout, or the sort of map any man on the street could buy for a fiver he would probably agree that Carlisle is part of England - but we prefer to go with his first impression,”

“An impression gained from a mediocre vantage point several thousand miles away from the line itself.”

The news has disappointed many Cumbrian resident, with one man telling us, “This decision has really crossed a line - which is a shame because now the authorities probably won’t even see it.” 

NArse.

Playboy Heff

16 Things You Didn’t Know About Hugh Hefner.


How the German System Works

Comparisons between the Premiership and the Bundesliga (or rather the differences) are being made in the aftermath of the game between the two rivals.  But will the arrogant FA ever admit they have it wrong?  I doubt it....


Who owns the clubs?
NO German club can be owned or controlled by a company or an individual person, so there is no chance of a Chelsea or Manchester City situation. But because German teams cannot pay expensive wages and transfer fees they focus more on young talent. For instance, Mesut Ozil was at the youth academy of Schalke, then Werder Bremen bought him for £3.8million - now he's worth around £18m.
 
Do kids get into the first team?
BUNDESLIGA sides use their second teams to bring on their youngsters. A year ago, Bayern striker Thomas Muller - who hit two goals against England - played for Bayern II in the German third division. The same is true for defender Holger Badstuber.
 
How many youngsters make it?
OF Sunday's victorious team four players - Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil - were in the Germany Under-21 side that beat England 4-0 last summer to clinch the European Championship. Only James Milner upped his status for England.
 
How much do clubs pay in wages?
TOP-FLIGHT clubs in Germany paid 51 per cent of revenue in players' wages compared to a whopping 67 per cent in our own Premier League.
 
Do clubs fold?
NO teams in the German Bundesliga are in danger of entering administration - unlike debt-ridden Portsmouth were last season. And, in another indication of financial strength, more than half of the 18 clubs make a profit.
 
Must clubs develop youth?
TO obtain a licence to play in the Bundesliga you must run an academy and, as a result, the top two divisions spend £60million a year on these programmes.
That has helped raise the number of German-qualified players under the age of 23 playing in the Bundesliga from six per cent to 15 per cent.
 
How well do German teams do in the championships?
GERMANY'S success in bringing through talented youngsters has been highlighted by the displays of their national youth teams. In the last couple of years Germany have won European titles at Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 level and Joachim Low's squad which humiliated England in Bloemfontein was their youngest to go to a World Cup in 76 years, containing six of the Under-21 championship-winning side.
 
Do fans pay high prices?
GERMAN gates are on average nearly 8,000 higher at 41,000 but ticket prices are much lower, with giants Borussia Dortmund - who won the European Cup in 1997 - charging as little as £13 compared to the average cost of £39 to watch a Premier League game. Figures for the 2008/09 season showed the Bundesliga had overtaken the Premier League as the most profitable in football.
 
How many Germans in Bundesliga?
THE proportion of Englishmen playing in the Premier League stands at a disappointing 44.3 per cent. In contrast, the Bundesliga's German representation is a more healthy 51.4 per cent.
 
Do we have any hope?
ENGLAND'S Under-17s took Germany's European title this season so maybe there is some hope for the future. But that all depends on what chances arise for those potential stars at Premier League clubs.

Capelloo on Ice for Fortnight

Club Eng-er-land's managing director has stated that FA officials had decided to give themselves extra time to decide on Capello's position to avoid a "knee-jerk reaction" in the wake the defeat in Bloemfontein.

"Sir Dave Richards met with Fabio this morning and we are all very clear that Fabio is under contract with the FA until the 2012 European Championship and nothing has changed in that respect.  Obviously everybody is very disappointed today, so it makes perfect sense for us to go back to London, take stock of the situation and see what we can take from it and just speak to Fabio from there.

I don't think there is anything sinister in it beyond that.  We just want to show a common-sense approach rather than making a knee-jerk reaction within 24 hours of a very disappointing result." 

Nothing like jumping the gun, is there?  Not like removing the clause which could have seen the FA oust Capello  from his contract for a lot less than his £6 million a year, just a couple of weeks before the tournament kicked off, eh?

No, that surely wouldn't have benefited by giving it a fortnight before making an important decision...

Cost of a Beer

Not too dissimilar to Bangkok but if you're brave enough (read foolish) you can opt for the fierce-some Chang beer which is at least THB 10 cheaper than the equivalent bottle of Singha or Tiger (both far superior lagers).

I think we paid around THB 80 for a large Chang at the Germany game but it came at an additional cost- to my hearing.

We'd arrived late and the only available seats in the bar with a good view of the TV was at the bar directly next to the woman in charge.  All was well until she started to shout out instructions to her team of waitresses and it was like being next to a caterwauling banshee.  How such a tiny person with barely any noticeable lung size could emit such a volume of ear drum shattering, shrilly pitched (don't forget Thai is tonal) noise is beyond me. 

It was like an aural Tsunami and just as relenting as wave upon wave of sonic commands were fired around like a scatter gun.

Still, I had the last laugh- the noise I bellowed out every time Germany scored more than made up for it and in the end she moved away.  :o)

Great Local Food

Being a touristy place, CM has loads to offer holiday makers on the food front.  Plentiful dining options ranging from cheapy specials to top end dining, local cuisine to mock western fare, it's readily available at varying costs.

My first meal of Tom Yam Gung and stir fried rice with chicken barely cost two quid and was fine, but yesterday's yellow noodle with chicken and red curry with chicken and green beans was as reasonable and far better and we also had air-conditioning.

As always, try to find somewhere away from the obvious drags, look for locals eating places and if you can view the menu without getting DMECed, that's always a good sign.

Rings on Their Fingers

Too Much Kit-e-Kat

Tigers Aren't the Onl;y Ones Who are Striped

Chiang Mai has a nearby Tiger Kingdom and the girls decided to leave me to crow about Germany's victory to myself and have a bit of fun.

A good thirty minute tuk-tuk ride out saw then arrive at this hands on park where for the sum of THB 520 and THB 320 you could spend twenty minutes in the company of a tiger cub and a nearly fully grown adult respectively.  THB 700 (around £15 per head) saw a combined deal which also allowed you unlimited access to all the park's areas to see the numerous big cats in their daily environment.

I suppose fifteen notes is reasonable to actually get hands on with tigers, but the THB 500 per person entrance fee to the nearby "authentic" village to see the locals in their neck rings wasn't.  Still, they have to survive and earn a living by putting themselves on show.  Pictures next.

Home From Home

Book Finished

I briefly mentioned that I'd completed Thatcher's "The Downing Street Years" and it's been a fascinating read.  I wish I'd made the effort ten years ago but better late than never and although some of the near 1 000 page book was hard going (some of her writing on foreign visits or setting the scenes behind some of the endless meetings she had to attend were very dry) I'm glad I stuck with it.

Without doubt the most revolutionary political person in my lifetime and while she was due some criticisms, they pale into insignificance compared to the her magnificent achievements.

I've just picked up a book by Ben Elton from one of the dozens of second hand bookshops that are abundant here in Chiang Mai ("High Society") and while it's an old title, it was only THB 100 and will be ideal for lounging around the pool at the next hotel we stay in on the weekend.

It's another Imm Hotel but this is further out of town and has an Olympic sized pool.  Can't wait.

No Further Surprises

Brazil and Holland progress to the last eight of the World Cup and I expect Spain will join them after they beat Portugal by the odd goal.  The other game is closer to call as I have a sneaking suspicion Japan will edge out Paraguay but we'll find out later today.

Then it's anther rematch with Argentina for us on Saturday.  Oh dear, that is going to be another killer game to endure.  :-(

Monday, 28 June 2010

It's Not the First Time

And until we get video replays into the game, it won't be the last.  My particular favourite as a Spurs fan is at the end- I was gutted and definitely not over the moon...

Rob Shoebridge, Bristol City v Crystal Palace 2009
Shoebridge failed to award Crystal Palace a goal despite Freddie Sears' fierce strike hitting the back of the net and bouncing back out again. The goal would have put Palace 1-0 up but Shoebridge inexplicably awarded a goal kick to Bristol City instead. Bristol went on to win the match with a 90th minute winner scored by Nicky Maynard.
 
Derek Webb, Coventry v Crystal Palace, 1980
In similar circumstances to Sears, Clive Allen can claim to have scored one of the most controversial disallowed goals of all time in Palace's 3-1 defeat at Coventry. Allen curled a fabulous free-kick into the top left hand corner where it rebounded off the stanchion and back into play. Webb waved play on despite Palace's strenuous protests. Allen later referred to it as the "best goal I've never scored".
Watch on You Tube
 
Stuart Attwell, Watford v Reading, 2008
Attwell's decision to award Reading a "phantom" goal for a shot which missed the target in a Coca-Cola Championship match ranks as one of the most peculiar decisions in football history. Stephen Hunt's corner hit Watford's John Eustace and rebounded out for another corner, or so everyone thought. But, after consultation with his linesman, Attwell awarded a goal - a decision even Hunt labelled as "the worst decision I've ever witnessed".
Watch on You Tube
 
Les Mottram, Partick Thistle v Dundee United, 1993
Dundee Utd scored a perfectly legitimate goal from a corner after Paddy Connolly had blasted home from close range. What makes this particular goal all the more remarkable is that a defender picked up the ball, handed it to the goalkeeper Andy Murdoch, who punted it upfield in that annoyed way that only 'keepers do after having conceded a goal. Unbelievably, Mottram nor his assistant spot the goal, or the handball, and wave play on.
Watch on You Tube
 
Mark Clattenburg, Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur, 2005
Tottenham Hotspur's Pedro Mendes spotted Manchester United's goalkeeper Roy Carroll well off his line and tried a speculative effort from his own half. Although Carroll got back on his line in time he spilt the ball two yards over his goalline with Clattenburg and his assistant, Rob Lewis, too far away from the incident to judge. The match finished 0-0.
Watch on You Tube

Ouch

From TTel:


World Cup 2010: England team still a beacon of footballing cluelessness to the world
 
Fabio Capello’s hapless defenders played as if they had never even met each other against Germany in South Africa.
 
If that doesn’t quite do the trick, we dwell on how statistical evidence collected over 60 years establishes that in all World Cups on foreign soil, England will progress precisely as far as it takes to meet one of the big boys, and no further.

Me, I bear-hug the defeatism in the quest for serene acceptance of the inevitable, and for more than half an hour on Sunday it worked. 

England began atrociously, of course, but still seemed destined for the conventional narrow defeat that permits us to cling to the comforting blankets of self-pity and moral outrage.

What followed staggered even this uber-pessimist. Here was something new, not the traditional stolid competence against powerful opposition, but a level of amateurishness to confirm the suspicion, raised against Algeria, that 11 men who had never met before, or spoke the same language as any other, were randomly selected a month ago at by the National Insurance computer, and flown to South Africa by the producers of a reality TV show for a crack at global sport’s most lustrous prize.

When Messrs Upson and Terry launched their audition for the reformed Keystone Kops by gifting Miroslav Klose the opener, this was almost comforting. Any residual optimism was obliterated, and Lukas Podolski’s second, after the above-mentioned duo appeared to have taken to deck chairs for an ice cream, finished the job.

And then, from nowhere, came the revival. This was the wickedness. What right England had to become the first team to reach half-time deserving to be 5-0 behind yet feeling robbed at trailing 2-1, who can say?

Yet they did just that, and seldom has Michael Frayn’s old saw about it not being the despair that kills you but the hope been better captured than during the interval.

I even developed a theory, loosely based on the Oedipus story, to explain why England would win: that the Russian linesman business placed a curse on us, and that now being denied a goal that crossed the line by twice the width of the Grand Canyon had finally lifted it.

The fantasy survived the restart for a while before nemesis arrived. Of the agony occasioned by the last brace of German goals, it remains too soon to dwell.

Inquests will be held into how an England free-kick led, within seconds, to Germany’s third; why what we cannot technically call the defence believed themselves subject to a Nato exclusion zone as Germany broke again for No4; and how players who captivate the planet each week in their Premier League strips can perform like that in the shirt of England.

To the latter, there can be no easy answer. We must each seek out our own truth there.
Blaming them or Fabio Capello feels as futile as blaming the Uruguayan linesman for reigniting the evil ember of hope which no amount of logic, historical fact or cognitive therapy can ever fully extinguish.

We are England, beacon of preternatural footballing cluelessness to the world, and to that right now there seems nothing useful to add.

It Doesn't Take Long

– David Blaine is reportedly furious after England crashed out of the World Cup – his record of doing absolutely nothing in a box for 42 days was broken by Wayne Rooney.

– The England team visited an orphanage in Cape Town today. “It’s heartbreaking to see their sad little faces with no hope,” said Jamal, aged six. 

– I’ve just won two tickets to see the England team. Do you want to come with me? We’ll catch the bus to Gatwick Airport on Thursday and watch them come home.

– I hear Oxo are making a new product. The packaging is white with a red cross and they're calling it the laughing stock.

– What’s the difference between the England team and a tea bag? The tea bag stays in the cup longer.

– Fabio Capello was wheeling his shopping trolley across the supermarket car park when he noticed an old lady struggling with her bags of shopping. He stopped and asked, “Can you manage dear?” To which the old lady replied: “No way. You got yourself into this mess. Don’t ask me to sort it out!”

– What do you call an Englishman in the knockout stages of the World Cup? A referee.

– Apparently that fan had no trouble slipping into the England dressing room – Robert Green was guarding the door.

– I can’t believe we only managed a draw against a rubbish team we should easily have beaten. . . . I’m ashamed to call myself Algerian.

– What does the Englishman do when England wins the World Cup? He switches off the Play Station.

– What’s the difference between Wayne Rooney and Shrek? Shrek can save the day.

– What’s the difference between a faulty jet engine and Wayne Rooney? The jet engine eventually stops whining.

:oD