Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Outstanding

C & H

T Shirt Xmas

The average Brit will enjoy just seven official white Christmas' during their lifetime, it has been found, and not everyone is that lucky- 45% of people have never experienced a white Christmas at all.

Glasgow was found to be the best place to be for snow lovers as it gets a moderate to severe dusting on Christmas Day every two and a half years and Edinburgh follows close behind in the list of places most likely to get snow, with the white stuff coming down every 4.9 years.

I'm quite happy to do with out it, thanks.

Southern Blurks

Toy Story has been named as the movie which most likely to make men blubber after it topped a list of the top 10 films which make grown men cry.  The whole list then:

1.  Toy Story
2.  Forrest Gump
3.  Return of the Jedi
4.  ET
5.  Jerry McGuire
6.  Titanic
7.  The Notebook
8.  Marley And Me
9.  Shawshank Redemption
10. Up.


What, no Bambi or Dumbo?

Wor Kev's 110%

THE Premier League has seen its biggest weekend of epic, 110 percent giving since it was scraped off a wart on Rupert Murdoch's back.

Every team managed to score at least one empty, windswept cliché, with Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov racking up five pages of tabloid alliteration.

He becomes the first top flight striker to grab such a haul of overly-effusive folderol since Alan Shearer did something that everyone has forgotten about in 1999.

Footballologist Wayne Hayes said: "The sheer volume of commentators saying it's the greatest league in the world shows that it's the greatest league in the world for hearing how it's the greatest league in the world.

"While the Spanish press may have more technically-gifted sports journalism you cannot beat the English league's coverage for sheer excitement. Assuming you're also fond of devastatingly poor sentence construction."

Meanwhile more than 90% of managers described various things as 'epic', while the alleged magnificence of their players was up 262% from this time last year.

Arsene Wenger topped the league by describing Arsenal's 4-2 win over Aston Villa as 'the encapsulation of 10,000 years of civilisation and the shining moment that, when the universe finally fizzles into cold oblivion, will mark out humanity's existence'.

But Wolves boss Mick McMarthy is likely to face an FA investigation for bringing the game into repute after describing his side's last-minute winner against Sunderland as merely 'smashing'.

The weekend's perspective-free balderdash was rounded off by the FA Cup third-round draw, which saw dozens of relatively-impoverished teams given the opportunity to not win the trophy by beating fourth-string versions of teams that couldn't give a tinker's tuppence if the trophy was melted down and turned into a statue of Wayne Rooney blowing his muck up a strumpet.


DMash.

Schadenfreude

THE single thing that makes Britons happiest is watching others have a total and utter nightmare, according to a new study.

Researchers found that UK citizens derive more pleasure from seeing other humans having a horrendously stressful time than from sex, hobbies or playful interaction with baby animals.

A delighted Emma Bradford, from Grantham, said: "The thing that makes me happiest is, of course, spending quality time with my husband and kids. And by that I mean watching some people having a nervous breakdown on
Sarah's Beeney's Help I've Bought A House That I Can't Afford And Also It's Full Of Cancer Gas."

Happy plumber, Roy Hobbs, added: "It's true, there's nothing gives me a warm feeling inside like the sight of a terrified
Masterchef contestant puking, crying and urinating at the same time.

"I kid myself I want to see them do well. I don't, I want to see them screw up in the most wretched manner and then curl into a gibbering fetal ball while Greg beats them with a spatula screaming 'You vile cur'.

"Look at me, I'm smiling."

He added: "I also like watching Katie Waissell crying. Not, I should add, because she's Jewish. But because she's human."

Professor Henry Brubaker, of the Institute for Studies, said: "Nothing brightens our day more than the sight of someone else being goaded and prodded into a state of abject despair.

"But our happiness is not derived solely from schadenfreude and pathological misanthropy - 22% of people also listed 'meat'."


DMash.

Too Cold to Snow

The UK is still in the icy grip of chaos as the mysterious white flakes that have caused havoc to many areas continue to fall from the sky.

Parts of eastern England and Scotland already under thick layers of the white flakes, while strong winds are likely to cause drifting of the mystery substance, forecasters say.

There is much speculation as to where the icy flakes are coming from, with the Church of England dismissing claims by scientists that it is precipitation falling from clouds in the form of ice crystals, as “witchcraft”.

“It’s common knowledge that thunder is God’s tummy rumbling and that rain is him crying, so our own research has shown that these white flakes must be as a result of God having a flaky scalp.” Said one leading theologian. 

UK Snow

43 year-old Christine Goddard, who runs a shop selling bucket loads of tat, believes the icy flakes are as a result of something more sinister than the dandruff of an omnipresent super-being passing judgement on our every movement.

“It’s got to be terrorists,” She insisted.

“Christmas is the time of year for buying complete tat, and it seems obvious that terrorists will want to disrupt our tat-buying at all costs.”

A government spokesperson has revealed that they are working all hours to try and determine the cause of the flakes.

“Hopefully we can find out what they are, and where it’s all coming from.” said an Environment Agency official.

“If we can solve this mystery then hopefully we won’t get caught out next time they mysteriously appear.”

“Maybe.”

NT.

As Suspected

Wikileaks documents

Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks has released secret messages sent by US embassies which show that Americans are as obnoxious about other people in secret, as they are whenever you meet them.

The controversial whistle-blowing site has released a cache of 250,000 secret messages sent by US diplomatic staff in which the US staff talk exactly like everyone imagined US staff actually talk like when they’re on their own.

One non-American moron said, “I can’t believe that Americans say these nasty things behind closed doors, particularly when they seem so happy saying them in public wherever they are in the world when I see them.”

Wikileaks have defended the leak, with founder Julian Assange explaining, “It’s important that people realise that the loud, obnoxious, highly-opinionated persona that people see from Americans all over the world is exactly the same as the persona they display when locked away in their secret embassies.”

“Knowing they behave in exactly the same way in their private offices is admittedly shocking, but it’s something we all needed to know.” 

Wikileaks US cables 

One Guardian reader hearing of the cables for the first time said, “I’m shocked that senior American officials are having the sorts of conversations I hear Americans having in public all the time.”

“I suppose this is the value of a whistle-blowing service, without which we might have continued to assume that behind closed doors Americans were nice polite individuals whilst choosing to be complete arseholes about everyone else when in public.”

The US have strongly criticised the leak, with Republican congressman Peter King telling reporters, “It is important that those people fortunate enough to have never met an actual American genuinely believe we are nice about everyone else behind closed doors.”

He concluded, “This has put the social lives of our embassy workers in danger, with many Christmas party invitations already being rescinded.”

NT.

Never Shaken, Never Stirred in These

December's First Weekend Fixtures

Saturday, 4th December 2010- Barclays Premier League

Arsenal v Fulham, 15:00
Birmingham v Tottenham, 15:00
Chelsea v Everton, 15:00
Man City v Bolton, 15:00
Wigan v Stoke, 15:00
Blackpool v Man Utd, 17:30 

Bundesliga 2 at 19:00 Bielefeld v Gr.Furth
(we lost again last weekend, Fort Dusseldorf and remain rock bottom of the league.  :-()

Npower League Two


Sunday, 5th December 2010- Barclays Premier League

West Brom v Newcastle, 13:30
Sunderland v West Ham, 16:00 

Motorpike and Side Carp

The world's fastest fish can swim at speeds of 45 miles per hour.

Burd's Footie WC 2011

England have been drawn against Japan, Mexico and New Zealand in the group stages of the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany next summer.  Full draw:


Group A
Germany
Canada
Nigeria
France

Group B
Japan
Mexico
New Zealand
England

Group C
USA
Korea DPR
Colombia
Sweden

Group D
Brazil
Australia
Equatorial Guinea
Norway

I'll bet many don't bother to watch this but you'll be surprised at not only how well the ladies play but also how tense and exciting it can be.  Go on, give it a try.  :o)




Germany are seeking their third successive victory in the finals and the competition will take place between 26th June and 17th July 2011.

Seems Open Enough

How the SPOTY nominees were short-listed:

A range of newspaper and magazine sports experts across the UK were asked to send in their own top 10 selections.

They were then collated to determine the final shortlist of 10 contenders for the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

A public phone vote will decide the winner during the show on BBC One, which is being broadcast from 1900 GMT on Sunday 19 December from the LG Arena in Birmingham.

The nominations are listed in alphabetical order by surname. 
 
Telegraph
Gareth Bale
Tom Daley
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Graeme Swann
Beth Tweddle
Lee Westwood
Amy Williams
Daily ExpressJenson Button
Tom Daley
Lewis Hamilton
David Haye
Amir Khan
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Rory McIlroy
Andy Murray
Lee Westwood

Observer
Mark Cavendish
Jessica Ennis
Paul Hanagan
David Haye
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andrew Strauss
Graeme Swann
Beth Tweddle
Lee Westwood
Sunday TimesMaggie Alphonsi
Danielle Brown
Jessica Ennis
Fran Halsall
David Haye
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Graeme Swann
Beth Tweddle
Amy Williams

MetroMark Cavendish
Tom Daley
Jessica Ennis
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andy Murray
Graeme Swann
Phil Taylor
Lee Westwood
Amy Williams
Sunday MirrorTom Daley
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
David Haye
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andrew Strauss
Graeme Swann
Beth Tweddle
Lee Westwood

MirrorMark Cavendish
Jessica Ennis
David Haye
Amir Khan
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andrew Strauss
Phil Taylor
Lee Westwood
Amy Williams
HeraldRicky Burns
Jessica Ennis
Dario Franchitti
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andy Murray
Graeme Swann
Phil Taylor
Lee Westwood
Amy Williams

Scotsman
Mark Cavendish
Jessica Ennis
David Haye
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Rory McIlroy
Andy Murray
Lee Westwood
David Weir
Amy Williams
Sun
Charlie Adam
Chris Ashton
Gareth Bale
David Haye
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Paul Scholes
Graeme Swann
Phil Taylor
Beth Tweddle


Scotland on Sunday
Ricky Burns
Mark Cavendish
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
Katherine Grainger
David Haye
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
David Weir
Lee Westwood
Times
Tom Daley
Jessica Ennis
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Rory McIlroy
Andy Murray
Graeme Swann
Phil Taylor
Lee Westwood
Amy Williams

Daily Star
Rebecca Adlington
Mark Cavendish
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
David Haye
AP McCoy
Andy Murray
Graeme Swann
Beth Tweddle
Lee Westwood
Guardian
Rebecca Adlington
Mark Cavendish
Tom Daley
Jessica Ennis
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Eoin Morgan
Emma Pooley
Graeme Swann
Amy Williams

Birmingham Post/Mail
Rebecca Adlington
Mark Cavendish
Jessica Ennis
David Haye
Lewis Hamilton
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Graeme Swann
Phil Taylor
Lee Westwood
Sunday Telegraph
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
Lewis Hamilton
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andy Murray
Graeme Swann
Beth Tweddle
Lee Westwood
Amy Williams

Daily Star SundayGareth Bale
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
David Haye
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Paul Scholes
Graeme Swann
Phil Taylor
Lee Westwood
Sunday Express
Mark Cavendish
Tom Daley
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Paul Scholes
Graeme Swann
Beth Tweddle
Lee Westwood

Independent
Mark Cavendish
Tom Daley
Jessica Ennis
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andy Murray
Andrew Strauss
Graeme Swann
Lee Westwood
Amy Williams
Independent on Sunday
Mark Cavendish
Tom Daley
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Graeme Swann
Phil Taylor
Lee Westwood
Amy Williams

Mail on Sunday
Mark Cavendish
Tom Daley
Jessica Ennis
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Lewis Moody
Andy Murray
Graeme Swann
Lee Westwood
Amy Williams
Liverpool Daily PostMark Cavendish
Dai Greene
Fran Halsall
David Haye
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andrew Strauss
Phil Taylor
Beth Tweddle
Lee Westwood

Zoo
Gareth Bale
Mark Cavendish
Didier Drogba
Audley Harrison
Amir Khan
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andy Murray
Graeme Swann
Lee Westwood
Belfast Telegraph
Tom Daley
Steve Davis
Jessica Ennis
Paul Hanagan
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Rory McIlroy
Andrew Strauss
Phil Taylor
Lee Westwood

Sport Magazine
Mark Cavendish
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Graeme Swann
Phil Taylor
Beth Tweddle
Lee Westwood
Amy Williams
Express and Star
Mark Cavendish
Tom Daley
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
David Haye
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andy Murray
Phil Taylor
Lee Westwood

Evening Standard
Gareth Bale
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
David Haye
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andy Murray
Andrew Strauss
Graeme Swann
Lee Westwood
The Voice
Didier Drogba
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
David Haye
Mark Lewis-Francis
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Andrew Strauss
Phil Taylor
Lee Westwood

Western Mail
Gareth Bale
Mark Cavendish
Tom Daley
Jessica Ennis
Mo Farah
Dai Greene
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Beth Tweddle
Lee Westwood
News of the World
Mark Cavendish
Tom Daley
Mo Farah
David Haye
AP McCoy
Graeme McDowell
Graeme Swann
Phil Taylor
Lee Westwood
Amy Williams

There was a four-way tie for the final three places in the Top 10. A panel of six former SPOTY winners voted on which three names should go through to the shortlist of 10.

The BBC Sports Personality of 2010 Contenders

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year top-10 shortlist has been revealed.

It features jockey AP McCoy, golfers Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell, darts legend Phil Taylor and diver Tom Daley.

Winter Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams is also included, along with heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis and England cricketer Graeme Swann.

Boxing's world heavyweight champion David Haye and cycling sprint sensation Mark Cavendish make up the top 10 contenders for 2010.

SPOTY CONTENDERS - PROFILES 
 
Amy Williams

The other awards to be presented on the night will include:

- Team of the Year
- Coach of the Year
- Overseas Personality
- Young Personality
- Helen Rollason Award
- Unsung Hero Award
- Lifetime Achievement

More at the BBC.

But What A Draw

Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott set a series of records as England hit an extraordinary 517-1 on the final day of the first Ashes Test before declaring.

The match finished in an expected draw, Australia replying with 107-1 having been set 297 to win from 41 overs.

Cook's 235 not out was the sixth best Ashes score by an Englishman and he also surpassed Sir Don Bradman for the highest Test score at the Gabba.

Cook and Trott (135no) put on 329, the ninth highest England stand in history. 

Cook and Trott's partnership was the most productive by an England pairing on Australian soil and the best by any duo in Brisbane, beating the 307 produced by Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin earlier in the same match.  

More at the BBC.

Indian Visa Application

Found this extremely informative forum post at IndiaMike.com which is going to save us a load of hassle- hopefully.

Oh and Dave, if you're reading- can you pass on your Indian sponsor/referee soon?  We need to get these in quickly as I suspect mine is going to be quite a bastard.  Check your email.  Cheers.

Applying for an Indian tourist visa in Bangkok

Summary of points:
  • Visa applications are no longer handled by the Indian Embassy in Bangkok, but by a private outsourced company based in the Glas Haus building on the corner of Sukhumvit and Soi 25 (Skytrain Station Asoke, Exit three, SECOND left off Sukhumvit, right on the corner, stright ahead to the lifts, 15th floor). Don't bother going to the Embassy - you're wasting your time;
  • The cost of this service has increased by 480 Thai baht for non-Thailand residents - the total charge is 2,680 Thai baht;
  • The form that you download from the usual websites for this purpose are no longer valid - don't waste your time.
  • You will still have to wait five days for your visa;
  • The process is, at time of writing, relatively new and some of the staff are replacement barely-trained monkeys who replaced the previous staff because they're cheap.
  • Security there is a farcical comedy
'Official' website here: http://www.thaindian.com/news-snippe...gkok-4404.html

Hi all. Missus Rogue and I recently applied for an Indian tourist visa in Bangkok and as non-thai-residents (NTR) we thought you might like to hear of our experiences.


Firstly, a bit of background: we applied for an Indian visa in London (we're British residents) in early January this year. It was a mildly irritating process of confusion and barely-controlled chaos, but it wasn't too bad. The whole process took about 2.5 hours, discounting the short period where we went across the road for lunh at Pret-a-Manger in Aldwych (we were treating ourselves, as anyone who knows about this rather costly sandwich shop chain will appreciate). Staff were, in the main, friendly and helpful if a little harassed. We left happy and relieved that the process was so relatively easy.


Fast forward nine months.


After a fantastic trip through the subcontinent and a stunner in South-East Asia, we decided that we weren't quite ready to go home yet, and to go back to India for Christmas. Being in Thailand, the best place to do this is obviously Bangkok. Here starts the lesson:


We arrived at the Indian Embassy (Soi Asoke/23, Sukhumvit, Bangkok. Skytrain Station Asoke, Exit three, first left off Sukhumvit, 15-minute walk) only to be handed a sheet of paper telling us the following:

Quote:
In order to bring about greater efficiency in issue of visas, the collection of visa applications and delivery of visas has been outsourced to an Embassy approved service provider, VFS (Thailand) Ltd. The service will be operational from 25 October 2007.

With the new arrangements, the Embassy will be able to provide
“Next Day Service” to Thai nationals and applicants of other nationalities normally resident in Thailand i.e. the visa will be issued on the following day after an application is received. The maximum time that any visa applicant is expected to spend at the Visa Application Centre would be 20 minutes.

All visa applicants are, w.e.f. 25 October 2007, requested to directly contact :


India Visa Application Centre

No. 1, 15th Floor, Unit 1503,
Glas Haus Building,
Sukhumvit 25

Sukhumvit Road, Klong Toey-Nua,
Wattana, Bangkok 10110
Tel : 02-6652968
Fax : 02-2605829
Website : www.ivac-th.com
So, we went over to Soi 25 (Skytrain Station Asoke, Exit three, SECOND left off Sukhumvit, right on the corner, stright ahead to the lifts, 15th floor) with our completed application forms from the website to be handed another form to fill out. We were handed the ticket and the forms and went inside to get cracking. inciedntally, they took my Swiss Army Knife, camera, cigarettes, lighter and mobile phone before I went in and refused to give me a receipt for them.

After a not-too-long wait, we handed in our applications, paid our fees (a total of 2,680 baht each, and went off to explore Bangkok. Again. The guy who handled my application was friendly, knowledgeable and professional, but Mrs. Rogue was not so impressed with her consular assistance.


A week later, we arrived at the visa centre before 11 am (as we had been told, although I believe it's now 10 am - check this) and were again frisked by security. This time, they took my lighter, but not Mrs. Rogue's, my bag, but not Mrs. Rogue's Rogue's camera but not mine and didn't bother with my Swiss Army knife.


Call that equal opportunities?


Anyway, we handed in our passports after the usual ticket-wait and bugered off for some lunch. We were told to come back between 15:30 and 17:00 even though the sign on the wall said 15:00 - 16:30. We decided to compromise and got there about ten minutes after three.


Ticket-wait again, then after about 45 minutes when our number was called, we got to the front of the queue to be told that our passports had not arrived yet and there would be a further 50-minute wait.


That turned out to be fairly accurate.


Anyway, we got our passports and our visas and we're going to India on Wednesday. Hurrah! But I don't understand the justification for this. It's supposed to increase efficiency, but you pay 480THB
more for the same service. And most of the staff don't know what they're doing.

I hope this saves you a few hours.


RogueII

Arthur et les Minimoys

French in title (although in English) and directed by Luc Besson, this was a charming discovery last night as we flicked through the channels.

Centring around Arthur, who is a spirited ten-year old whose parents are away looking for work, whose eccentric grandfather has been missing for several years, and who lives with his grandmother in a country house.  The same house that, in two days, will be repossessed, torn down, and turned into a block of flats unless Arthur's grandfather returns to sign some papers and pay off the family debt.

Arthur discovers that the key to success lies in his own descent into the land of the Minimoys, creatures no larger than a tooth, whom his grandfather helped relocate to their garden. Somewhere among them is hidden a pile of rubies, too.  Can Arthur be of stout heart and save the day? Romance beckons as well, and a villain lurks.

Great fun as a  Christmas "feelgood" movie and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  Worth a DVD rental.

More at IMDb.

PS:  It got better; they showed Grease which kicked off at 01:00.  I made it to "Sandy"...

Monday, 29 November 2010

Storm in a Tea Cup?

Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain has been spelled Llansantffraid since the mid-1800s, until being dropped by Powys council, claiming it was correcting a mistake.

However, the community council wants the extra "t" back, and more than 70 villagers agreed in a survey, with only three opposed.

Who gives a shi?  :o)

More of this riveting story at the BBC.

Apt Time of Year

Worldwide, Santa Claus is known by 265 different names.

The "Fairer" Sex

The number of teenage girls who are physically aggressive and lash out at school and at home has risen at an alarming rate, experts have claimed, as more and more girls are binge drinking and emulating male behaviour.

The trend has been noted by the British Association of Anger Management, which is dealing with increasing numbers of "out-of-control" and aggressive young women.

The association’s findings echo sta-testicles which found the "ladette" yob culture was on the rise, with 200 women convicted of violent crime every week.  The number of women found guilty of murder, vicious assault or other attacks has risen by 81% since 1998.

Tough up North

A cold spell gripping Britain might seem like a reason to wrap up warm, but it seems that women in the North and Scotland haven't been affected by the freezing temperatures.  Researchers have found that mini skirts in the area are the shortest in the country.

Northern burds wear skirts that are on average 17cm shorter than girls in the south.

Debenhams found that the average skirt length in Edinburgh is just 30cm, in Glasgow and Preston it is 32cm and in Liverpool, women's skirts are on average 33cm long.

The study also found further south in the country the skirts become longer with girls in Bournemouth wearing skirts 47cm long.  In Southampton and Cantebury the average length of skirt was 46cm.

And it seems that the recent freezing weather that has gripped Britain has actually increased the amount of mini skirts sold in the North.  Figures revealed that sales of mini skirts at a store in Newcastle have risen a staggering 28%, while sales of short skirts in Glasgow also increased by 21% and in Sheffield 19%.

Special Kids Only

Unexpected Store Names,unfortunately store names,unfortunately names

Hot Plate Christened

The halogen ceramic plate heats up instantly and cooks in seconds.  It can re-heat, has a range of temperatures, a timer and all sorts of fancy tricks, which means we can vary our options of what we eat over the next couple of months.

Wifey picked up a Dory fish fillet (raw) and steamed rice (cooked), poached the fish in some milk, made a couple of fried eggs and had the whole lot with a salad.  Apparently "delicious" and cost barely over a couple of quid, so we'll have the new toy paid off in a couple of days.

Quote/Unquote

The 'Net is a waste of time, and that's exactly what's right about it.
 
- William Gibson

The Weather Forecast

Gadget showing the next five days is quite funky.  Put the cursor over the revolving images and either push up or pull down- you can change direction and speed of the cycles.  Like it.

Once is Enough


You only try this once - adventures in Play-Doh

Having a Flutter

One out of 10 Japanese men describe themselves as "addicted to horse racing."

Viz Top Tips

- DURING WINTER, put pop tarts on your radiators so you can have a warm snack throughout the day whilst saving electricity on your toaster.

- SAVE MONEY on electric toothbrushes by simply clamping a bottle brush into the chuck of a Black & Decker drill.

- DON'T BUY bright red paint for exterior metalwork from B&Q. Judging by the state of many of their DIY stores, it's really shit.

- BREAKFAST LOVERS. Make the 'toast always lands butter side down' myth wrong by dropping your toast, then quickly buttering it before someone sees.

- MAKE YOUR own inexpensive mints by leaving blobs of toothpaste to dry on a window sill. Use striped toothpaste to make humbugs.

- GAMBLERS. Convince fellow punters that you have some inside knowledge by simply cheering every race winner and then counting a wad of cash in your pocket.

A Week in the Stars

Celebrity horoscopes from NT:


Scorpio Horoscope SCORPIO – Bernie Ecclestone (28th October) - Don’t wear anything expensive this week, otherwise you will get blood all over it on Wednesday.  Oh, hang on, this is last week’s horoscope.
sagittarius Horoscope SAGITTARIUS – Brad Pitt  (18th December) - Domestic bliss is shattered this week when Angelina pops out to get milk and returns with another baby from a country neither of you can pronounce.
capricorn Horoscope CAPRICORN – Stephen Hawking (30th December) – Control Alt Delete.  Remember that sequence, you’re going to need it on Thursday morning.  Forget it, and you could be stuck in Asda’s meat aisle for hours.
Aquarius Horoscope AQUARIUS – Kim Jong Il (16th February) - Get your best jumpsuit dry cleaned, as you’re going to be all over the news on Wednesday when you beat your personal best at North Korea’s premier golf course. 16 holes in one, you are incredible.
Pisces Horoscope PISCES – Gordon Brown (20th February) - This week will give you the chance to once again feel that buzz of real power, when you get the chance to do something about the Leylandii problem affecting so many of your rural Scottish constituents.
Aries Horoscope ARIES – Keira Knightley (26th March) - Now that most of your London Boulevard media responsibilities are done, you are free to laugh yourself silly at Colin Farrell’s comically bad cockney accent. We know you’re dying to.
Taurus Horoscope TAURUS – Andy Murray (15th May) - A smile will appear on your face on Monday, but it will soon disappear when you realise it was caused by trapped wind.
Gemini Horoscope GEMINI – Paul McCartney (18th June) - News will break this week that your ex-wife Heather Mills is dating another multi-millionaire, you should just be happy that she’s really landed on her foot.
Cancer Horoscope CANCER – Anthony Costa (23rd June) - This week will go from bad to worse on Wednesday, when even your own family forget who you are.  Keep a copy of Blue’s debut album to hand as evidence.  You’re in the photo, right?
Leo Horoscope LEO – Monica Lewinsky (16th August) - Your luck will change on Friday, when after 14 long years, you finally get another famous person to jizz on your dress.
Virgo Horoscope VIRGO – Richard Gere (31st August) - Sure, you might not be in too many films these days, but there is cause for celebration when the local pet-shop makes Gerbils available at half-price.
Libra Horoscope LIBRA – Anne Widdecombe (4th October) - Keep a friend close by on Tuesday, as you will fall down the stairs at Waitrose, but as you stumble and roll towards the floor everyone will think you’re merely rehearsing your Paso Doble.

The King is Dead

Long live the King...

New look, new feel, same old bollocks.

2/3 ain't bad, right?  :o)

Interesting

"Y" is the only vowel in the English language that is never doubled.

Advertisement

Good and Bad

One in five children aged eight to 15 has never had the chance to paddle in the sea, either on the beaches around Britain's coastline or abroad, a survey has found, and almost as many have never had the opportunity to take part in the great tradition of building castles in the sand either.

Other findings from the survey revealed that 52% of children haven't been on a boat and 40% have yet to fly in an aeroplane, but it's not all bad news, 67% had never been camping, while 71% had missed out on the experience of spending time in a caravan.  Lucky them.

US of A a Bit Peeved

From the Independent:


The doors to a previously hidden world of diplomatic intrigue and insults were dramatically thrown open last night as the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks published its vast tranche of secret American diplomatic communiqués. The release of hundreds of thousands of secret messages from staff at US embassies revealed how Washington has struggled to confront the geopolitical realities of a post-9/11 world.

It also exposed the often less than diplomatic language used by State Department insiders to describe some of the planet's most powerful leaders. Contained within the quarter of a million secret memos are revelations that:

*The Obama administration has ordered diplomats to gather vast amounts of personal, biometric and banking details about key global figures, including the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon; 
*Key Arab allies in the Middle East, including King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, have pleaded with Washington to take military action against Iran's nuclear programme;
*Tehran is thought to have obtained from North Korea a cache of Russian-designed missiles that could be fired at targets as far away as Berlin;
* US officials warned their German counterparts not to arrest CIA officers who were suspected by Berlin of being involved in America's "extraordinary rendition" programme – the secret global abduction and internment of suspected terrorists;
* Washington has grown increasingly wary of Italy's close ties to Russia, with one official describing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as the "mouthpiece of [Vladimir] Putin" in Europe.
* Officials from the US Drug Enforcement Administration accused the Afghan Vice-President, Ahmad Zia Massoud, of travelling to the United Arab Emirates with $52m in cash; 

The communiqués – most written between 2006 and 2009 – use colourful language to describe political leaders in ways bound to cause embarrassment in Washington and abroad. The Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, is referred to as a "pale and apprehensive man", while Nicholas Sarkozy of France is "an emperor with no clothes" and Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai is "driven by paranoia".

Some of the harshest criticism is reserved for key anti-American leaders opponents. The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is described by one official as being "like Hitler", while North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-il is called a "flabby old man".

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is praised as a strong US ally but dismissed as "risk-averse and rarely creative". Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is derided as "an alpha dog" who plays Batman to Medvedev's Robin.

One of the most revealing personal details is the disclosure that the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, is accompanied at all times by a "voluptuous blonde" Ukrainian nurse.

There are also claims of "inappropriate behaviour" by an unnamed member of the British Royal Family.

Iran's nuclear programme surfaces frequently in the memos and is viewed as a key concern by the Americans and their Arab allies. Reports from US embassies in the Middle East suggest that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urged Washington to take military action against the Islamic republic and to "cut off the head of the snake". According to Wikileaks, leaders in Jordan and Bahrain also backed the use of armed force if necessary. One of the reports quotes Zeid Rifai, the then head of the Jordanian senate, telling a senior US official: "Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter."

A message dated 24 February this year says that US officials believe the Iranians have stockpiled 19 advanced BM-25 missiles, based on a Russian design, with help from North Korea. They are thought to have a range of 2,000 miles – 800 miles further than any missile Iran has had before. The Tehran regime is not yet thought to have the technology to build a nuclear warhead small enough to fit inside a BM-25, but the memos offer growing evidence that Tehran has the ballistic capability to target western Europe.

The messages also reveal some of the diplomatic pitfalls of America's so-called "war on terror". In 2007, the US fell out with Germany over arrest warrants that were issued for CIA agents accused of being involved in rendition. A senior US diplomat told a German official "our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the US".

There is also mounting concern about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, which the US fears could be seized by Islamist militants. The leaked memos suggest that, since 2007, US officials have mounted a top secret but so far unsuccessful attempt to remove enriched uranium from a Pakistani research plant. In a message dated May 2009, the US ambassador, Anne W Patterson, says that Pakistan refused to grant American technicians access to the reactor because they feared that local media might get hold of the story and portray the visit as "the US taking Pakistan's nuclear weapons".

The cache of messages also casts aspersions upon the way US embassy staff are involved in collecting personal data about foreign nationals, blurring the line between standard diplomatic work and outright espionage. State Department personnel working at the UN, for example, were ordered in a July 2009 directive approved by Hillary Clinton to gather the credit card and frequent-flier details, work schedules, biometric data and other personal information about foreign dignitaries, including senior British representatives at the UN. They were also asked to collect details of "private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys". Similar communiqués were sent to US staff in Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. One asked staff to acquire "internet and intranet 'handles', internet email addresses, website identification URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent-flier account numbers; work schedules and other relevant biographical information".

Classified State Department documents reveal that US embassy staff in Berlin recruited a German politician to supply them with confidential information about Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government shortly after it was elected in 2009.
Even though a significant number of the secret messages date back to before Mr Obama took office, the White House was aggressive yesterday in its condemnation of their release by Wikileaks, saying the publication could "deeply impact" US interests abroad and put lives "at risk".

Last night, the US ambassador to London, Louis Susman, said: "Releasing documents of this kind place at risk the lives of innocent individuals – from journalists to human rights activists and bloggers to soldiers and diplomats. It is reprehensible for any individual or organisation to attempt to gain notoriety at the expense of people who had every expectation of privacy in sharing information."

The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, rejected the suggestion that the publication of the memos would endanger lives. "As far as we are aware, and as far as anyone has ever alleged in any credible manner whatsoever, no single individual has even come to harm as a result of anything we have ever published," said the 39-year-old Australian.

Despite Washington's fears that a vast amount of uncensored information was to be published by the website, Wikileaks went some way towards redacting the names of informants it believes might be persecuted. 

What has been released?
 
* Most of the cables were written between 2006 and 2009 although a small number go back to the early 1990s.
* They are thought to have been downloaded from SPIR-Net, the Pentagon's global secret-level computer network, by Bradley Manning, a former Iraq-based army intelligence analyst.
* In total the cache comprises more than 251,000 documents, 11,000 of which are marked "secret". An additional 9,000 or so carry the label "noforn", meaning the information should not to be shared with those outside of the US, and 4,000 are marked "secret/noforn". The rest are either marked with the less restrictive label "confidential" or are unclassified.
* That such a large amount of confidential data can be so easily copied and leaked is testament to how the US government has struggled to combine better communication between its various government agencies and the need to protect secret information.
* More than 2.5 million government employees have access to SIPR-Net.

Not Enough Burds

Germany has worst gender equality in top jobs it has been claimed, with the proportion of German women in management positions in the country's top companies as low as in India.


Only two percent of CEOs in Germany are women, the study found, with Barbara Kux of Siemens and Regine Stachelhaus of the energy company E.ON being among the few.

Sweden comes at the top of list, with a female contingent of 17% followed by Britain and the US, who both have 14%, but Germany fares better when it comes to boards of directors. 

13%of German board members being women, although this is still a long way behind Norway with 32% and Sweden with 27%.

Pop Ups

30%of the money spent on on-line advertising is spent through Google.

It's MY Sun

The Sun has been legally registered as the property of a Spanish woman, who wants to charge everyone for "using" the star.  She said:

"There is an international agreement which states that no country may claim ownership of a planet or star but it says nothing about individuals.  I am not stupid (really?), I know the law.  I did it but anyone else could have done it, it simply occurred to me first."
 
She has been issued with a title deed from lawyers in the region of Galicia that states she is "owner of the sun, a star of spectral type G2, located in the centre of the solar system, at an average distance from Earth of about 149 million km".


The woman now plans to charge all users and give half the proceeds to the Spanish government, 20% to the nation’s pension fund, ten per cent to research and ten per cent to fighting world hunger.  And the last ten per cent is her cut.

Good luck in claiming the payments, pet.

Top Toys

Mini marvels: Victoria in a model Porsche Speedster, left, races against her friend Frances Gibbs in the replica E-Type Pictures: Solent News 
 
The latest "must have" adult toys are miniature replicas of a Jaguar E-Type and a Porsche Speedster with top speeds of 46 mph.  At 2.2m long and 1m wide, they have a 110cc petrol engine or electric motor with disc brakes, and one will set you back around £10 000.  
 
Only problem?  They're not road legal.

Expensive Offer

An Australian brewery is offering to buy every one of its countrymen a free beer if Australian regains the Ashes from England.  Carlton and United Breweries, Australia's sponsors, say they will print up vouchers in newspapers that can be redeemed if the team comes up trumps.
A win would cost the brewer around £13 million.

I don't see how.  I've drunk their beer and it's rank  Even Chang is more preferable.

Time to Pay Up

I remember reading about this in 3sixty, the Air Asia in-flight magazine at the beginning of the year.

Richard Branson will don a red Air Asia uniform and high heels after losing a wager with AA's chief executive Tony Fernandes.


The pair had both placed a bet at the beginning of the F1 championship, agreeing that the one whose team lost would serve as a "stewardess" on the winner's airline.  Although both teams completed the season with zero points Fernandes' Lotus team were placed ahead of Branson's Virgin Racing in the rankings, thanks to their better race finishing positions.  Fernandes said:

"We have had this great bet running all season and now it's time for Richard to start preparing himself for some hard work and the likely pain of a pair of high heels." 

Sir Richard will work on a Kuala Lumpur to London flight, seats for which will all be sold in an on-line auction for charity.  Fernandes added:

"The date of the flight will be announced very soon and the aim is to raise as much money as we can for a good cause so the discomfort Richard will go through is worth as much as it possibly can be."

AirAsia is Southeast Asia's biggest budget carrier and one we use almost exclusively as we travel around this fabulous part of the world.

Rigged?

kE5mk How Not To Rob A Liquor Store


If this isn't a set up, it's rather amusing.  Not the best way to conduct a stick up.

Another One Gone

Leslie Nielsen, who starred in the Airplane! and Naked Gun film comedies, has died aged 84.  He passed away on Sunday at a hospital near his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he was being treated for pneumonia.

How sad.  :-(

Skid Lids on the Piste

Some 40% of skiers will not wear a helmet this season, according to Essential Travel, the on-line insurer.  This is despite 75% of them admitting to having had an accident on the slopes in the past that was serious enough to require medical assistance.

The company has linked up with a sports retailer, Ellis Brigham, and Headway, the brain injury association, to launch a campaign to persuade skiers and snowboarders to wear a helmet.

That'll Never Fly

The light bulb. The telephone. Email. If you’re a specialist in your field, there are two ways to become a household name: create something new, or claim it can never be done. If you want to be remembered on the Internet, choose the second one. Here are 9 examples from ecosalon of breakthroughs, inventions and innovations the experts were completely wrong about.

1. The Electric Light Bulb

 
“… good enough for our transatlantic friends … but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.” British Parliamentary Committee, referring to Edison’s light bulb, 1878.

“Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure.” Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison’s light bulb, 1880.
The Brits get sniffy about American innovation (not for the first time) – and miss the invention of the century. Now our light bulbs comes in all shapes and sizes, and we’re eco-innovating faster than ever. Not too shabby for a conspicuous failure.

2. The A/C


“Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” Thomas Edison, 1889.
Oh Tom, you were doing so well. Edison enjoyed sniping at the efforts of his rival George Westinghouse (who bought the patent for a/c transmission from Nikola Tesla), and look where it got him. Fact is, it’s easier and far more efficient to distribute power with a/c than with Edison’s darling direct current. Oops.

3. The Personal Computer


We have reached the limits of what is possible with computers. John Von Neumann, 1949
Somewhat wide of the mark. Along came the integrated circuit (better known as the microchip), and things went crazy. Computers have allowed our species to really connect. We can even study and regulate our own planet – and there’s still no computing limits in sight.

4. The Microchip


“But what… is it good for?” An engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, commenting on the microchip in 1968.
Hardly anything – well, apart from virtually every piece of electronic equipment in gadgets, vehicles, computer networks, power stations, homes, offices and every other conceivable part of everyday life for this century and probably the next. But otherwise, yes – useless.

5. Data Transmission

Image: anomalous4

“Before man reaches the moon, your mail will be delivered within hours from New York to Australia by guided missiles. We stand on the threshold of rocket mail.” Arthur Summerfield, U.S. Postmaster General under Eisenhower, 1959.

“Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition.”
Dennis Gabor, British physicist, 1962.

A brilliant scientist, Gabor received the Nobel Prize for inventing holography – but entirely failed to anticipate e-mail and the modem. (To be fair, so did everyone else). Nowadays, entire bookshelves can be transmitted for a few cents in the blink of an eye, making scientific collaboration a truly global enterprise. And all without rockets.

6. Online Shopping


“Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop – because women like to get out of the house, like to handle merchandise, like to be able to change their minds.” TIME, 1966.
It’s true that both sexes like the tactile experience of shopping in person. But e-commerce? As PayPal‘s proft margins will attest, remote shopping is here to stay – and helps get money to where it’s most needed.


7. The Automobile


Image: Cyberesque   
 
“The ordinary “horseless carriage” is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.” Literary Digest, 1899.
 
If only that were true. But the infernal combustion engine shows no signs of slowing – in 2005, an estimated 53 million new cars hit the world’s streets, fuelling all sorts of problems. Happily, we’re fast rediscovering the bicycle and rethinking the automobile.
 
8. The Television


Image: Narisa
 
While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.”
 
Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1926. Dream on. There are currently around 220 million “impossibilities” in the United States alone. TV is everywhere. It’s just a shame the old types are full of lead – but every year sees a cleaner version, like the new Philips Eco FlatTV here.

9. Possibility


“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
Supposedly said by Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899 – except he probably didn’t. So the last word goes to actor and humorist Peter Ustinov:
“If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done.”

Cracked