Wednesday, 30 April 2014

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Petrol Pumped

Turkmenistan's free petrol supplies for car owners will be discontinued, although citizens will apparently keep receiving gas, electricity, water and salt free of charge.
From 1 July, Turkmens will no longer get their monthly allowance of 120 litres of free petrol, state TV reports. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, leader of the Central Asian republic, says the change is being made to "ensure the sustainable development of the national economy, as well as the rational use and distribution of fuels".
The free petrol allowance was introduced by the president in 2008. Under his predecessor, the eccentric long-time ruler Saparmyrat Niyazov, petrol was not exactly expensive either at 0.05 manat ($0.02) per litre. But after the authorities started handing out free petrol to car and motorbike owners, they also raised prices at petrol stations to almost $0.22 a litre, diaspora website Khronika Turkmenistana reports.
Turkmenistan says it has the world's fifth largest estimated reserves of natural gas, and also sizeable oil deposits. But it says has been unable to exploit them fully because the country lacks viable export routes, and there is a dispute between the Caspian Sea littoral states over the legal status of offshore oil.

DYK?

did-you-know-453

Bye-Bye, Time

Dutch champions Ajax say Tottenham have contacted them about the availability of coach Frank de Boer.  A spokesman for the Amsterdam club said that Spurs approached their director of football Marc Overmars by telephone within the past month.

De Boer, 43, has won the Dutch title with Ajax in each of his four years as a manager.


My Photo
Sorry, not good enough.  I hope they contact someone else.

Robbo

Bitten by the Blue Meanies

I dunno Brendan, you wait all season for a bus to come and then two come along at once.


As Sunday approached the feeling grew that this was going to be another of those Mourinho moments.


Liverpool were riding the crest of a wave of goodwill and genuine empathy and not even the most consummate practitioners of the cynical game plan could halt the juggernaut. Chelsea had barely anyone decent to pick from, they were tired, they couldn't win the League anyway, and Mourinho felt as sick as a dog. A perfect storm for crushing disappointment.


Of course this is half the story. The Blue Meanies simply do not have poor squad players. Mourinho may have overlooked the simpler fixtures his team has failed to win but put him up against the best and he zones in like a footballing Field Marshall Montgomery.


And if the game-plan involves being mean, immovable and more than a tad annoying well then that's just how Jose likes it. As I've said before his personal charisma is in inverse proportion to that of his teams.


It helped that Liverpool weren't very good on the day, but it was a little sad to see first Stevie Gerrard and then the team as a whole fall flat on their faces.


Chelsea's time-wasting was a miserable recourse but naturally it did the job. Liverpool's anticipated head of steam couldn't have loosened a stamp off an envelope. Chelsea took all the air out of the opposition and in the second half they deflated like a punctured paddling pool. The goals were very much a product of the home side's errors too.


It was the footy equivalent of the Rumble in the Jungle. The Blue Meanies just lay against the ropes and slowly but surely Liverpool punched themselves out before Willian delivered a sucker punch of his own. (Although clearly Ali was the good guy, whereas Chelsea have the Evil Genius on their side).


All of which left Brendan Rodgers unable to resist the odd side-swipe at his former boss. Stuff about 'trying to be offensive' (which always makes me smirk - Patrice Evra could probably tell you how successful Suarez has been at that in recent times), playing the game in a 'sporting' manner, and insisting that his team were the team that was 'playing to win', all left him looking like a decent gentleman who can't understand why someone's just mugged him.


Because it works, Brendan. That's why. It worked against Citeh - although they were much more attack-minded at the Etihad - and it worked against Atletico Madrid. I wouldn't want to play like that either. Or watch anyone else play like that. All the money that Chelsea throw at their squad and it could've been Tony Pulis in charge of that side. Which is actually a tad unfair on Tony.


But Mourinho is nothing if not realistic. And he's right. Chelsea won't win the title. He's gone and helped Citeh get it. Liverpool have to rely and that most unlikely source of support, Everton. After their comical defeat to Southampton all of Merseyside will be hoping that Martinez gets at least one of his central defenders back for next weekend or there'll be no escape from Alcaraz.


The fact that Yaya Toure is back makes me doubt Everton's chances. The man once again proved why he's the best all-round midfield player in the world at Palace. That second goal was typical of him, a one-man Gulliver trouncing across the park while the Lilliputians falling off him left right and centre. 


Of course Toure made it into the PFA Team of the Season, along with Adam Lallana which tells me that England team-mates will be delighted to have him there in Brazil. And of course Suarez, booed when his name was called out at last year's ceremony because he was still picking bits of Branislav Ivanovic out of his teeth, completed a remarkable path to redemption.


Players always insist that this award means the most, more than the Football Writers Award (which he'll also win). Suarez has been utterly peerless this season and what's more he doesn't without nibbling or needling the opposition and he's even cut down on the falling over a little bit. Like Didier Drogba before him, he's discovered how much better a player he can be when he's in a vertical position.


But little Luis shan't be getting the League title after all. When I read that the Liverpool fans were lining the road to the ground singing 'We're Going to Win The League' or 'We Are The Champions' or whatever you sing on these occasions - I'm a Boro fan how the hell would I know? - it all felt very premature indeed. And so it proved.


When Mourinho's around it doesn't do to get ahead of yourself. It's ironic that a man for whom many women (and a lot of men too, not just John Terry) swoon is the one bloke who constanly proves that when it comes to Premier League football, Romance Is Dead.


Not a happy ending. 

What Goes Around


max clifford guilty
As Max Clifford was found guilty of indecent assault, members of the British prison population have excitedly declared their interest in becoming the first ‘kiss-and-tell’ of the publicist’s impending incarceration.
Clifford, who single handedly turned talentless morons and guilty parties into household names, is due to be sentenced for his crimes on Friday.
Convicted armed robber, Frank Murphy expressed his elation at the prospect of exchanging a manly fumble at Her Majesty’s behest for a huge paycheck under the guise of ‘news’.
“Mr Clifford says he has nothing to hide – and if the rumour’s about the size of his penis are anything to go by – he would appear to be telling the truth,” he told us.
“The thought of him bedding down for the evening beneath a cheap nylon blanket on a rock hard pillow doesn’t just fill the general public with a warm feeling – that extends to us cons too.”
“To think that for the kind of invasion of privacy that he sought to exploit through his media interests could now be replicated by a troupe of hulking criminals for a large pot of honestly earned money, well.”
“Let’s just say there are lots of fags being exchanged for vaseline as we speak.”
Max Clifford guilty
A lawyer for Mr Clifford declared his client as ambivalent to a spell behind bars.
“Releasing a kiss-and-tell involving himself would however be uncharted territory.”
“What?”
“Oh no – he’s never done a ‘fist-and-tell’ before.”

Unbelievable

Munich get stuffed, 0 - 4 at home to Real Madrid?  What a poor end to their season after so much cruising.  Shocking.

BBC

DYK?

In 1955 the richest woman in the world was Mrs Hetty Green Wilks, who left an estate of $95 million in a will that was found in a tin box with four pieces of soap. 

Queen Elizabeth of Britain and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands count under the 10 wealthiest women in the world.

Twitter Public Relations Disasters- 2

5
Posh supermarket Waitrose is ridiculed for its upscale image

Posh supermarket Waitrose is ridiculed for its upscale image
In 2012, British supermarket giant Waitrose made the mistake of underestimating the power of social media when it asked Twitterers to finish the sentence "I shop at Waitrose because…"

Waitrose higher-ups no doubt expected to see positive tweets, but were instead met with ridicule for the company's upmarket image. Regardless, the comments were a huge draw and it's uncertain whether the campaign was a failure or triumph. (Source)



6
Qantas airline contest draws thousands of angry Tweets from disgruntled flyers

Qantas airline contest draws thousands of angry Tweets from disgruntled flyers
Australian airline Qantas was shocked and surprised by the angry tweets it received after asking followers for entries to a competition with suggestions for dream in-flight experience. 

The airline posted this seemingly innocent tweet: "What is your dream luxury inflight experience? (Be creative!) Answer must include #QantasLuxury." 

Hundreds seized the opportunity to respond with sarcasm, but most Tweets came from passengers unsatisfied with the state of the airline and had experienced travel disruptions first-hand. "#Qantasluxury was being abandoned at Heathrow for 4 days in the snow with no customer support while trying to get home to 8mo pregnant wife!" and "#QantasLuxury is dressing your staff in t-shirts that say 'We're Sorry' and believing that makes up for missing a friends funeral" are just two examples of the general tone of the comments. 

The PR campaign could not have been launched at worse time for Qantas – it came just a day after the airline and its unions broke off contract negotiations and Qantas grounded its fleet, stranding thousands of angry customers. (Source | Photo)



7
Entenmann's random tweet puts the company in Twitter's crosshairs

Entenmann's random tweet puts the company in Twitter's crosshairs
When Casey Anthony was found not guilty in the death of her daughter, angry Twitterers took to the web to rant against the injustice done to little Caylee. 

What does baked goods giant Entenmann's have to do with the Casey Anthony verdict, you ask? Well, the company's social media person either thought it would a funny comment on the outcome of the trial or just didn't read the news that morning – Entenmann's jumped on the trending #notguilty hashtag and posted a Tweet asking, "Who's #notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?"

Needless to say, this backfired and Twitterers railed against the company's timing and insensitivity. 

Entenmann's apologized by saying, "Sorry everyone, we weren't trying to reference the trial in our tweet! We should have checked the trending hashtag first” and then followed up with, “our #notguilty tweet was insensitive, albeit completely unintentional. We are sincerely sorry." (Source)



8
Starbucks holiday cheer campaign is highjacked by tax protests

Starbucks holiday cheer campaign is highjacked by tax protests
Back in 2012, Starbucks fell victim to a Twitter PR campaign gone wrong. When the coffee giant asked customers to send some holiday cheer using the hashtag #spreadthecheer, it received a slew of tweets criticizing the Starbucks' low tax rates in the United Kingdom. 

The tweets weren't restricted to Starbucks' tax policies either. Starbucks' labor practices were also taken to task after the coffee chain threatened to cut paid lunch breaks, sick leave and maternity benefits for thousands of its British workers. 

How could things possibly get worse? The often profanity laced tweets were displayed on a huge screen at London's Natural History Museum where the company sponsors an ice rink. 

A Starbucks' spokesperson apologized to anyone who had seen the offending messages by the ice rink saying, "As a family-friendly, responsible company we are committed to ensuring that our publicly displayed content is appropriate for all audiences and profanity filters have been in constant operation since the ice rink opened…we will continue to work closely with the twitter wall moderator to ensure that all content is consistently reviewed before published.” (Source | Photo)

Twitter Public Relations Disasters- 1

1
The New York Police Department asks its followers for photos and is flooded with police brutality pics

The New York Police Department asks its followers for photos and is flooded with police brutality pics
The NYPD got far more than they bargained for when they took to Twitter asking people to post pictures of themselves interacting with New York's Finest using the hashtag #myNYPD. 

The request was innocent enough, but instead of happy pictures of cops posing with tourists, Twitter erupted with hundreds of photos of police brutality. 10,000 people an hour were posting to #myNYPD with more than 110,000 members of the Twitterverseresponding

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton actually seemed to be pleased with the response and said, "I kind of welcome the attention. We really broke the numbers. Send us your photos, good and bad. I am a strong supporter and advocate of social media.”

The Twitter backlash spread to other police departments including Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland and Denver. (Photo)



2
Singer Susan Boyle's PR team is embarrassed by accidental adult party invite

Singer Susan Boyle's PR team is embarrassed by accidental adult party invite
In 2012, singer Susan Boyle and her PR team were left red-faced after an unfortunate choice of hashtag was used to promote her new album, Standing Ovation.

The hashtag read #susanalbumparty. Twitterers realized that while it was supposed to read "Susan album party," it also had another meaning (see the above photo). 

The singer's PR team declined to comment and immediately deleted the tweet. (Source | Photo)



3
US Airways sends out pornographic image in response to complaining customers

US Airways sends out pornographic image in response to complaining customers
US Airways has been forced to apologize to customers after it responded to complaints on its official Twitter page with a pornographic image. 

When a young female complained about the airline ruining her spring break, the airline replied: "We don't like to hear this, Alex. Please provide feedback to our Customer Relations team here,” with a link to a pornographic image of woman performing a sex act with a model Boeing 777. It later emerged the same image went out to other users as well. 

Many of the airline's 420,000 followers quickly responded, expressing everything from disgust to anger to amusement. 

This PR fail became hugely popular among Twitter users and was the top trending topic in the U.S. It received more comments and retweets than the news of the Pulitzer Prize award breaking at the same time. (Source | Photo)



4
J.P. Morgan cancels Twitter Q & A after getting thoroughly trolled

J.P. Morgan cancels Twitter Q & A after getting thoroughly trolled
Banking behemoth J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. received a Twitter tongue-lashing after asking followers to send questions to an executive using the hashtag #askJPM. 

The online forum was intended to give college students the opportunity to communicate with a senior executive, but instead drew 6000 taunting tweets in less than 6 hours after the original post. 

Questions such as “Can I have my house back?” and “Is it true ‘JPM stands for ‘Just Pay More'?'' littered the company's feed before JPM pulled the plug on the whole campaign. 

“If you're in the banking industry with what's happened over the last five years, it might not be a good idea to go out and solicit comments on social media,” said Brad Adgate, a senior vice president at marketing firm Horizon Media Inc. in New York. “They are paying all these fines and billions of dollars to the federal government. I question the timing of this.”
(Source | Photo)

Dilbert

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

Word of the Day

  • fiscal
  • audio pronunciation
  • \FISS-kul\
  • DEFINITION
adjective
1
: of or relating to taxation, public revenues, or public debt
2
: of or relating to financial matters
  • EXAMPLES
The governor was harshly criticized by his opponent for not showing more fiscal restraint during the slow economic recovery.

"Let's remember that fiscal policy, or rather the financial management of the government, has two sides, expenditures and revenues." — From an opinion column by Gerald Petersen in The News-Press (Fort Myers, Florida), March 21, 2014
  • DID YOU KNOW?
"Fiscal" derives from the Latin noun "fiscus," meaning "basket" or "treasury." In ancient Rome, "fiscus" was the term for the treasury controlled by the emperor, where the money was literally stored in baskets and was collected primarily in the form of revenue from the provinces. "Fiscus" also gives us our word "confiscate," which now means "to seize" but once referred to the forfeiting of private property to public use. Today we find "fiscal" in a number of phrases, including "fiscal year" (referring to a 12-month accounting period not necessarily coinciding with the calendar year) and "fiscal cliff," a term that rose to prominence in the U.S. in 2012 when much attention was focused on a series of anticipated year-end tax increases and spending cuts.

Letters of Note



In 1930, after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, author Sinclair Lewis began to receive a steady stream of fan mail, from all corners. One woman in particular wrote and offered to become his secretary, adding, "I’ll do everything for you—and when I say everything I mean everything."

The following brief letter was sent to the young lady in response; not by Lewis, but by his wife, Dorothy.

(Source: Letters of a Nation; Image: Sinclair Lewis & Dorothy Thompson on their honeymoon in 1928, via.)

My dear Miss:

My husband already has a stenographer who handles his work for him. And, as for "everything," I take care of that myself—and when I say everything I mean everything.

Dorothy Thompson
(Mrs. Sinclair Lewis to you.)

Quote/Unquote

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

Albert Einstein
 (1879 - 1955)

Just Briefly Today

Far too much to see and do on our last full day here, so an abridged Blog today and back to business when we get back home, probably Friday.

DYK?

did-you-know-452

Three Days is Too Short

I've never been a fan of Phuket but have never seen it like this.  I can easily see how one falls in love with this island, especially if you keep away from Patong and next time we come back it will not take four years and we shall stay on far longer.

But I still miss Bangkok and can't wait to get back tomorrow as we meet more of our pals.

Lively Wildlife

Sitting at a seaside bar overlooking sand dunes, clear blue waters and sunny skies in hues of blue, green, yellow and heaven, Matt pointed out an iguana sitting on a tree branch.

I couldn't see it right away but he has super sharp eyes, but once I spotted it we noticed several more all living in the sun and trees.  Next moment, Edy and her friend shriek and leg it from our table, looking up.

There, lazing in the rafters, was brilliantly green tree snake, causing much hilarity.  As wifey said, what a lovely way to spend an afternoon in the office.

Revisit

Having grumpily given our hotel 2 out of 5 and now looking back impartially, it is better than I initially gave it credit for.  A fair 3 would be right, now that we have killed all the mossies and chilled out a bit.

Breakfast also runs to 11:00 which is more than fair.

Review to TripAdvisor soon.

What a Spread

The guys took us for lunch down by the harbour.

We walked through the fish market and looked on in wide-eyed disbelief as we saw fish the size of sharks, prawn the size of lobster and scallops like milk saucers.

We chose a whole fish, a bag of scallops and a pick-and-mix of prawns, squid, octopus and varying shell fish- the bill came to under £9 and could have fed a dozen hungry people.  That was just for the two of us as everyone did the same.

Walking across to the restaurant, you chat to the chef who suggests ways to cook "your catch" and after weighing, he sets a price to include stir fried rice and salad.  Including soft drinks and water, we paid an additional £5, all in

The best fish supper I have ever had- I can see why fish on Fridays is so popular.  Utterly brilliant.

New Toy

A super small 1 Tb HD for £45?  Not 'arf- bargain of the day.

Great Day

Touring the island shows off its true beauty that most holiday makers will never see.  Fiery hot but protected by the car's air con, this is the only way to see the place- as long as you have a knowledgeable guide.

May thanks to Au P and Edy who were outstanding and delightful company.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Great Idea

Spanish children may soon be required to help out with housework, under a draft law that has been approved by parliament.
The measure, which would be part of a wider child protection law, says that children under the age of 18 have an obligation to participate in all areas of family life. That includes "co-responsibility in caring for the home and performing household tasks regardless of age and gender", the ABC newspaper says. The rules come under a section of the law called "the rights and duties of children".
Along with doing chores, children would also have to be respectful to their parents and teachers, and have a positive attitude towards learning. But the bill doesn't say anything about penalties for children who refuse to go along, the Local website reports. Other elements of the bill would see the establishment of a list of people who are banned from working with children, and it would become a crime for people who work with children to fail to report possible abuses against them.
Married Spanish men can also face legal sanctions for refusing to do housework - an update in 2005 to the marriage contract used for the country's civil ceremonies added a clause requiring men to share in household duties, and the care of children and elderly relatives.
BBC

DYK?

Over the last 150 years the average height of people in industrialised nations has increased 10 cm (about 4 inches). In the 19th century, American men were the tallest in the world, averaging 1,71m (5'6"). Today, the average height for American men is 1,75m (5'7"), compared to 1,77 (5'8") for Swedes, and 1,78 (5'8.5") for the Dutch. The tallest nation in the world is the Watusis of Burundi.

Horror Storeys- 10

1. The Quill

Location: Southwark | Floors: 31 | Height: 109m | Architect: SPARRC | Status: approved | Use: student accommodation
The Quill
What would a building look like if it had a fight with a gigantic porcupine, and the porcupine won? You can get some idea by looking at plans for the Quill, a great silver cliff-face of a thing that will sport a broken assortment of spines on its top. This ungainly hulk was miraculously granted permission by Southwark council's planning committee, who described it as "dynamic" and "dramatic", no doubt wooed by the architect's claims that the form was "inspired by the literary heritage" of the borough. The spines, you see, are supposed to look like the top of a feathered quill pen, of the kind local lad Shakespeare might have used. But there the cultural connection ends: this spiny monster will house high-end accommodation for 500 students, mostly international, who will be able to peek out from their luxury lair through mean, arrow-slit windows.
The GLA planners said: "A building with a unique composition, with a striking roof form and an architectural appearance of the highest order, consistent with the aspirations of the London Plan."

Horror Storeys- 9

2. The Odalisk

Location: Croydon | Floors: 55 | Height: 199m | Architect: CZWG | Status: approved | Use: residential and hotel
The Odalisk
"The days of drab grey buildings are at an end," pronounced Piers Gough when he unveiled his design for the Odalisk, a self-consciously whacky totem pole for Croydon, planned to house a four-star Intercontinental Hotel and luxury serviced apartments within in its lumpen shell. Looking as if it has suffered a severe mauling from a Rottweiler, the tower appears to have been ripped to pieces and stitched back together in the wrong way, standing as a monstrous Frankenstein concoction. A looping bronzed band swoops and swirls up and down the building, gouging out great gashes here and there, cutting slippery fissures into the facade, before flaring out in a graceless canopy above the street.
The GLA planners said: "The projecting and recessing features are strong elements that help add depth and character."

Horror Storeys- 8

3. Walkie-Talkie

Location: City of London | Floors: 36 | Height: 160m | Architect: Rafael Viñoly | Status: Under construction | Use: office
The Walkie-TalkiePhotograph: Stuart Forster/REX
Trumpeted as "the building with more up top", the Walkie-Talkie swells as it rises to pack in more office space at the upper levels, where rents can be higher, giving it the shape of a bulging pint glass. As a literal diagram of developers' greed, it provides the painful proof that form follows not function but finance. An aberration of the planning system, the building stands alone outside the planned City cluster, like the school bully expelled from the classroom, poking its unwelcome bulk into the skyline from almost every possible vista. Not content with looming aggressively above its neighbours and blocking out their light, the Walkie-Talkie has even scorched them with its own death ray – channeling the sun in its concave facade to temperatures capable of melting cars.
The GLA planners said: "The quality of the design would make a significant contribution to London's architecture and reinforce the distinctiveness that other tall schemes have contributed to the City skyline."

Horror Storeys- 7

4. Strata

Location: Elephant and Castle | Floors: 43 | Height: 147m | Architect: BFLS | Status: built | Use: residential.
StrataPhotograph: View Pictures/UIG via Getty Images
If south London had always felt a bit like Mordor to some, then that reputation was firmly cemented by the arrival of its very own Dark Tower in 2010, topped with no fewer than three Eyes of Sauron in the form of wind turbines – which have remained stationary ever since. Variously compared to a knuckleduster aggressively punching at the skies, or an electric razor waiting to give the clouds a quick trim, the Strata, with its sinisterly sculpted peak, has certainly put Elephant and Castle on the map. Dressed in a sporty livery of black and white stripes, it was the deserved winner of the Carbuncle Cup for the worst building of the year, "for services to greenwash [those three wind turbines have never moved], urban impropriety and sheer breakfast-extracting ugliness".
What the GLA planners said: "The proposal is welcome, as it will initiate the regeneration of Elephant and Castle … the scheme should provide a positive addition to the London skyline."

Horror Storeys- 6

5. Stratford Halo

Location: Stratford | Floors: 43 | Height: 133m | Architect: Stock Woolstencroft | Status: built | Use: residential.
Stratford HaloPhotograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian
Like flies to a compost heap, developers swarmed to Stratford in the runup to the 2012 Olympics, each determined to build the "gateway to the Games" and cash in on the legacy gold-rush. Paying over the odds for small plots, they had to go tall to claw back profits. The result is a physical bar chart of inflated land values: steroidal towers now march down the high street, each trying to be more iconic than the next, forming a shouty gauntlet of cheap coloured cladding panels and bolt-on balconies. The Stratford Halo, at 43 storeys, is the biggest and boldest, wrapped with dubious purple pinstripes and topped with a jaunty quiff – and hosting a gaudy light show by night.
What the GLA planners said: "It has the potential to contribute towards the consolidation of a cluster of tall buildings at Stratford and the enhancement of its skyline."

Horror Storeys- 5

6. Vauxhall Tower

Location: Vauxhall | Floors: 50 | Height: 181m | Architect: Broadway Malyan | Status: built | Use: residential.
Vauxhall Tower
Like a cigarette stubbed out by the Thames, the Vauxhall's lonely stump looks cast adrift, a piece of Pudong that's lost its way. It was generally agreed to be in the wrong place, sprouting slap-bang in the middle of the view from Westminster Bridge, and was refused permission. John Prescott, then a deputy PM keen to leave his own mark on the skyline, called the scheme in and gave it permission in 2005 – against strong warnings from his advisers that it "could set a precedent for the indiscriminate scattering of very tall buildings across London". How right they were. It has since opened the floodgates for second-rate totems that will soon turn this part of the river into mayor Boris Johnson's nightmare of "Dubai on Thames".
The GLA planners said: "The new tower is likely to result in an improvement in visual terms … it would be a welcome addition to the riverside and skyline."