Monday, 31 March 2008
The mighty Honda Fireblade, a bike I once test rode back in the UK and hit three figure speeds with- in 2nd gear. Below is the familiar sight most other road users will get of this awesome race-bike-built-for-the-road.
And don't even try and look for a number plate. As with most two wheeled vehicles on Greek roads, registration marks seem optional. Lucky sods.
In fact, we've been having so much fun in Chania, that we've decided to extend our stay for an additional five nights, now just overnighting in Heraklion and then onto Rhodes as planned before.
It is so good to be able to have the option to chop and change, without the need to stick to a rigid schedule/itinerary and this is what makes the road trip so much fun. Stay where it's cool, move on from where it's not.
Tomorrow we start year three. I wonder where it will take us?
1 Google www.google.com
The powerhouse of the internet and the only place many people go for information. But if you thought Google was a still a mere search engine, look again. Click on 'more' at the top of the homepage to discover the work of 'GoogleLabs' - more than 50 free tools and web pages that could change your internet life.
GoogleDocs lets you create documents, spreadsheets and presentations, store them online, share them with others and access them from wherever there's an internet connection.
Googlemail is probably the best email program - it has virtually limitless capacity and you don't need to change your email address to use it. The Google calendar is a powerful searchable diary that you can allow others to access, so family members can make appointments together.
SketchUp could be just the tool you are looking for to design that conservatory extension and see what it will look like once the builders have gone. Add to that databases for searching academic journals and books in the public domain, the powerful GoogleMaps, with its engaging satellite imagery, a finance page with live stock quotes and an easy-to-use online messaging system, and you can see why some people say Google is taking over the world - and, with GoogleMoon and GoogleMars, the rest of the galaxy, too.
2 Anonymouse www.anonymouse.org
Surf the web without disclosing who or where you are.
3 iLounge www.ilounge.com
Hints, tips and troubleshooting for your iPod and associated software.
4 Only2Clicks www.only2clicks.com
If you use just a few websites, this lets you create a home page that has links to them all. Simple, free and practical.
5 Zoho www.zoho.com
A suite of free business programs. From word processing and presentation software to tools for taking notes in meetings, planning projects and creating databases.
6 Backpack www.backpackit.com
To-do lists, notes, ideas and calendar. Excellent for juggling projects and much more versatile than a ring folder.
7 GetNetWise www.getnetwise.org
All you need to know about keeping the net safe - protecting children, preventing spam, avoiding viruses and stopping others accessing your personal details.
8 DaFont www.dafont.com
More than 7,500 free fonts (for Mac and PC), so you can at last stop using Copperplate for your party invitations.
9 Pando www.pando.com
The superfast way to send large files over the web. Don't attach that family video to an email, Pando it instead.
10 FlipClips www.flipclips.com
Turn your home videos into animated flip books. Much more appealing than another DVD.
11 Digital Spy www.digitalspy.co.uk
Entertainment, media and showbiz news. Plus, a surprisingly good forum for technology-related problems - a great place to sort out your broadband.
12 BBC iPlayer www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer
13 Whatsonwhen www.whatsonwhen.com
Events, attractions, openings and exhibitions from around the world. Enter a location and dates and the site will show listings.
14 London Theatre Guide www.londontheatre.co.uk
What's coming on and what's making an exit in London's theatre world. Especially good for seating plans, so you can see where the box office staff are putting you.
15 The Internet Movie Database www.imdb.com
The world's biggest (and still growing) reference for actors, directors, locations, plots...
16 Rotten Tomatoes www.rottentomatoes.com
A round-up of what the critics thought of films on general release.
17 Screenonline www.screenonline.org.uk
The British Film Institute's definitive guide to the British film industry. Plots, features, statistics and news from the film world.
18 Good Reads www.goodreads.com
Expand your reading. Catalogue your books online and others make recommendations based on what you seem to enjoy.
19 TV Guide www.tvguide.co.uk
News, features and listings for Britain's terrestrial and cable television. Customisable interface so your favourite channels are always at the top.
20 Football365 www.football365.com
The authentic (and often tangential) voice of the Britain's 'real' football supporters.
21 CricInfo www.cricinfo.com
Everything you want to know about the world of cricket.
22 Beijing Olympics en.beijing2008.cn
The official Olympics site, with news, scheduling, features and a countdown to the games themselves.
23 Radio Locator www.radio-locator.com
From shock jocks to orchestral baroque, thousands of internet radio stations to listen to on your computer.
24 Live Plasma www.liveplasma.com
Expand your music and movie tastes. Enter the name of a song, band, movie, actor or director you like and Live Plasma will return some pretty intelligent recommendations for further investigation.
25 Blinkx www.blinkx.com
A clever way of searching for video clips on the internet - from uploaded episodes of your favourite soap to comedy home-video moments.
26 Lulu www.lulu.com
Self-publishing made smart again. Write, design and then print your own books - though you'll still have to persuade others to buy them.
27 VideoJug www.videojug.com
28 Wonder How To www.wonderhowto.com
Two great sites full of short videos showing you how to do almost anything, from the incredibly useful (exercises for diabetes sufferers, tying a Windsor knot) to the revelatory ('learn different kinds of kisses'), via the wonderfully obscure ('make a moving jaw for your werewolf mask').
29 Instructables www.instructables.com
DIY projects from zombie make-up to LED balloons. Excellent selection of rainy-day projects for bored children (and adults) at home.
30 Flash games www.k2xl.com
Addictive series of Flash games including the hypnotically soothing Boomshine.
31 GameSpot www.gamespot.com
News, reviews, hints and tips for virtually every console game on the market. Essential if you are still up at 2am trying to find a way into the castle on Zelda.
32 Anagrammer www.anagrammer.com
Online anagram machine for Scrabble players and crossword enthusiasts. Also solves Sudoku.
ADVICE AND INFORMATION
33 Newsmap marumushi.com/apps/newsmap
A wonderfully graphical - and customisable - display of news stories from around the world. Click on an item to see the full story.
34 The Eggcorn Database eggcorns.lascribe.net
Continually updated guide to modern-day Malapropisms, misunderstandings and other manglings of language. From 'high dungeon' to 'wreckless driving', Eggcorn names the culprits and nudges them in the right direction.
35 Arts and Letters Daily www.aldaily.com
World-class articles from intellectual and influential journals around the world. Browse the day's selections. Like The Week for eggheads.
36 Ask Philosophers www.askphilosophers.org
The academy comes to cyberspace. A panel of mainly American and British philosophy scholars answers questions sent in by the public. Search the database, from Abortion to War, or send in a question of your own.
37 When Is www.when-is.com
Shows you the dates of Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and American holidays from now to 2010.
38 Rhyme Zone www.rhymezone.com
For when the muse has gone, a rhyme and synonym generator to help you towards the perfect mot. You can also search for Shakespeare quotations, biblical references and other literary inspirations.
39 Nationmaster www.nationmaster.com
Giant but easily searchable database of statistics, maps and profiles for every country in the world.
40 Digg www.digg.com
The people's approach to news and features, Digg brings together items from across the net, ranked according to how many people have felt them worth recommending. Sometimes a little techie-heavy, but excellent for discovering what the cyberworld is getting worked up about.
41 They Work For You www.theyworkforyou.com
A powerful way of keeping tabs on MPs and peers: attendance records, voting patterns, recent statements and more.
42 Time Bank www.timebank.org.uk
Volunteering opportunities for young people, sorted by region, interest, skills and need.
43 Wikipedia www.wikipedia.org
Controversial, democractic and sometimes error-strewn encyclopaedia that has brought Darwinism to the world of knowledge. Make it your first port of call for looking something up. Just be sure to check somewhere else that what you find makes sense.
44 Wiktionary www.wiktionary.org
Wikipedia's online multilingual dictionary. Immensely powerful and far less controversial than its encyclopaedic forebear.
45 Motley Fool www.fool.co.uk
The original - and still the best - personal finance site on the web (the American version is at www.fool.com). For savers, borrowers, stock spotters and day traders, sound, independent advice that cuts through the jargon.
46 Martindale's 'The Reference Desk' www.martindalecenter.com
From the arts, business, science and technology, a dry but authoritative conglomeration of data from around the world.
Free and authoritative database of more than 17 million medical research papers. Not always easy to understand if you are not a medic, but a far better place to look for information than the random sites that come up on Google.
48 About.com www.about.com
The internet's version of that clever uncle who always seems to know the answer to your questions. There are few subjects the site doesn't tackle, though the coverage can be superficial. A good starting point for idle research.
49 NHS Direct www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk
Online information and advice about health and illness, run by Britain's National Health Service. The site includes a useful self-diagnosis tool that can reassure you that your hangover is not in fact meningitis.
50 Legal Services Shop www.freelawyer.co.uk
General legal advice relating to housing, family law, employment, motoring, consumer issues and personal injury, plus wills, conveyancing and divorce. Good starting point to see where you stand. Will also, for a fixed fee, answer questions and put you in touch with a solicitor.
51 How Stuff Works www.howstuffworks.com
Engaging encyclopaedia of the modern (and not so modern) world, with good illustrations and clear text. Can suffer sometimes from an 'it's amazing!' tone of voice..
52 XE www.xe.com
Currency converter covering every world currency. Azerbaijan new manats to Cayman Island dollars? Just a click away.
53 Advice Guide www.adviceguide.org.uk
Find where you stand legally with the Citizens Advice Bureau's online information resource.
54 Need2Know www.need2know.co.uk
Advice and information for young people, including health and fitness, drugs, problems with bullying, how to study and applying for jobs.
55 Royal Horticultural Society www.rhs.org.uk
Advice and suggestions from the world's leading gardening organisation. A good 'how-to' section and seasonal tips for the time of year.
56 Babelfish babelfish.altavista.com
Automatic translation to and from most European languages and Chinese. The results are sometimes a little strange, but you will usually get your message across.
57 eHow www.ehow.com
How to do just about everything, from getting stains off curtains to buying a second-hand car.
58 Eat the Seasons www.eattheseasons.co.uk
Updated weekly, information, tips and recipe ideas on British seasonal food.
59 Age Concern www.ageconcern.org.uk
Website of Britain's leading charity for the elderly, packed with advice about maintaining an active life.
60 Weather.com www.weather.com
The queen of weather sites, with more information than you would possibly imagine you might need, from pollen counts to surf forecasts.
61 Uncyclopedia uncyclopedia.org
Spoof Wikipedia-style encyclopaedia where nothing is true, but a good deal is very funny indeed. Idle away an afternoon or, even better, hone your comedy skills by making a contribution yourself.
62 Kiva www.kiva.org
An easy way to lend small sums (from $25) to business projects in the developing world. Kiva keeps track of your investment, updates you on progress and repays your loan as the business grows.
63 Embarrassing problems www.embarrassingproblems.co.uk
From bad breath and piles to cold sores and beyond, Dr Margaret Stearn dispenses invaluable advice.
HOUSE AND HOME
64 Noise Mapping England www.noisemapping.org
Click on an area of the map to find out how noisy a street, or even a section of the street, is - handy for light sleepers planning a move. At the moment only London is mapped, but the rest of England will follow.
65 Prime Location www.primelocation.com
One of the best sites for finding property. It is UK-based but has a good international presence.
66 Rated People www.ratedpeople.com
User reviews on local tradesmen. You describe the job you need done and how quickly and suppliers contact you with quotes - with previous customers rating them.
67 Zoopla www.zoopla.co.uk
Possibly the most dangerous site on this list, Zoopla gives sale prices of recently sold homes and - the tricky bit - estimates the value of the rest. We dare you not to look.
68 Money Saving Expert www.moneysavingexpert.com
Subtitled 'Consumer Revenge', this is where you find the discounts, tricks and tips to save money. The weekly email is essential reading for canny consumers. It caters only for Britain, but every country should have one.
69 MetaEfficient www.metaefficient.com
Practical guide to making your home more environmentally friendly, from low-flow showerheads to 12V lighting. US-based, but many of the products are available elsewhere.
70 Design My Room www.DesignMyRoom.com
For budding Laurence Llewellyn-Bowens everywhere, it provides the ability to redecorate your home in cyberspace. Choose colours, furniture, accessories and finishes and then publish the results online.
71 Up My Street www.upmystreet.com
Neighbourhood information based on postcode: schools, shopping and, juciest of all, how much the house down the road sold for recently.
72 Home For Exchange www.homeforexchange.com
One of many sites where you can swap homes with someone else for a period. This is less cluttered than some of the others and has a good geographical spread.
73 SimplySwitch www.simplyswitch.com
The fast way to compare utility suppliers and other services, from broadband to home insurance. Enter your postcode and the site comes back with the best deals.
74 101 Cookbooks
Enchanting recipe and foodie blog from a Californian cook who believes in good food. Subscribe to the email alert service and transform your cooking repertoire.
75 Facebook www.facebook.com
The most grown-up (just) of the social-networking sites that are fast taking over the world. Excellent for staying in touch with far-flung friends, though pretty good too for re-establishing contact with those you hoped you had lost.
76 Wordpress www.wordpress.com
The quickest and easiest way to create a blog of your own.
77 Ringsurf www.ringsurf.com
Like an online Mothers' Union meeting (though sometimes a little more risqué), Ringsurf is a chatroom where people exchange ideas about anything from politics to relationships. The quality is not always high, but users have been known to discover new (real-life) friends with interests they thought no one would share. A tribute to the information-sharing capability of the net.
78 bubbl.us www.bubbl.us
Organise your thoughts by creating mindmaps online and sharing them with others.
79 Technorati www.technorati.com
An intelligent, intuitive and inspiring way to read entries from some of the millions of blogs that dot the internet. You can browse by subject or area of interest, read the postings that are catching the world's attention and bookmark blogs that catch your attention. And if you want to join in...
80 Flickr www.flickr.com
The website you graduate to once you've discovered how to put your holiday snaps on the net. Here, everyone's photos are linked by using tags, such as 'Spain', 'beach' or 'happy', which sets you off on an exploration of others' uploads.
81 BabyCentre www.babycentre.co.uk
There are plenty of great parenting forums out there - Netmums, Mumsnet - but this is still the best source of considered, authoritative, often soothing advice on everything from colic to tax credits.
82 Friction TV www.friction.tv
YouTube for debaters. Upload a short video about an issue close to your heart and others reply in kind or by text.
83 GiftGen www.giftgen.co.uk
Gift ideas for when you can't think what to buy someone. You enter their age, sex and interests and how much you want to pay and it scours the net for ideas.
84 eBay www.ebay.co.uk
Online shopping for (nearly) everything you might want to buy. The original auction formula is still going strong, but plenty more features have been added since it began. Take a look at non-UK sites, such as ebay.fr and ebay.de, too, for bargains others may have missed. The layout is the same even if you don't speak the language.
85 Who What Wear Daily www.whowhatweardaily.com
Fashion tips, advice and suggestions. Includes Ask a Stylist for those tricky co-ordination problems and a What Was She Wearing? inquiry service to help you track down your favourite celebrity's fashion choice.
86 Gumtree www.gumtree.com
Unabashedly straightforward classified ads site, for everything from new homes to online romance.
87 AbeBooks www.abebooks.co.uk
The Amazon of the second-hand book world. More than 13,500 booksellers selling 110 million books. If it's not here, it's not worth looking for.
88 Kelkoo www.kelkoo.co.uk
There are plenty of price-comparison sites on the web, but this one seems to get it right more often than most. Type in what you want to buy and Kelkoo will come back with the cheapest prices it can find.
89 Endgadget www.engadget.com
A (digital) finger on the pulse of the technology world. All the newest developments, discoveries, gadgets and toys - before they hit the shops.
90 Cork'd www.corkd.com
Discover more about wine by reviewing what you've enjoyed and receiving tips and suggestions from others.
91 I Love Jeans www.ilovejeans.com
Find the right jeans for your fit before you even leave home. A cheeky but revealing 'body type' guide takes you straight to the brand you should be trying. Search by style, body type or brand. Women only.
92 Sky Scanner www.skyscanner.net
Monitors prices and destinations for all the low-cost airlines so you just type in where you want to go and when to find the best deal.
93 The Man in Seat 61 www.seat61.com
Routes, tickets, tips and advice - the only guide you need to travelling by train from Britain to Europe and the rest of the world.
94 Walk It www.walkit.com
Online pedestrian routefinder for London, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh that shows you the best route to walk from A to B. Includes calorie counter, CO2 savings and points of interest on the way. Other cities coming soon.
95 Transport for London Journey Planner journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk
Indispensable and almost always spot-on guide to negotiating the capital's public transport system. You enter your starting point and destination and it gives you the best bus, tube, cycle and even boat routes to get you across town.
96 ViaMichelin www.viamichelin.com
A hi-tech hark-back to the days of leisurely motoring. ViaMichelin gives you maps, routes and directions throughout Britain and continental Europe with added panache. The maps have a pleasant printed quality about them and, naturally enough, your route is accompanied by gastronomic highlights to be found along the way. There's also information about destinations.
97 Carbon Neutral www.carbonneutral.com
Information on your carbon footprint and how to cut it down. Includes an online calculator to measure your effect on the world.
Excellent all-round travel site. Use it for good prices on flights and holidays, but click on 'Destinations' for some well-researched and up-to-date travel guides.
99 SeatGuru www.seatguru.com
Aircraft seating plans, showing you the prime seats, possible annoyances and seats you should avoid.
100 Airline Meals www.airlinemeals.net
A consumer guide to what you can expect to eat on board. There are news and features from the airline catering world, but the best part is a gallery of photos of on-board meals sent in by passengers and listed by airline.
101 World Hum www.worldhum.com
Travel writing with a twist. Click on the destination you have in mind and be prepared to be inspired. The site also offers tavelogues, news, books reviews, blogs and slideshows.
Edvard Munch's famous painting, The Scream, was sensationally stolen twice from the National Gallery of Norway.
In 1994 two men took just 50 seconds to climb a ladder, smash through a window of the Gallery and cut the painting from the wall with wire cutters.
A few months later the thieves offered the painting back in exchange for a $1 million ransom, but the offer was refused. Luckily a sting operation held in May 1994 successfully recovered the painting, and four men were convicted and sentenced for the theft in 1996.
Ten years later, the painting was stolen again, this time alongside Munch's Madonna. Two armed, masked robbers burst into the Oslo museum in August 2004, snatching the artworks from the walls as horrified tourists looked on.
Police recovered the works in August 2006, but found they were scratched and torn and showed signs of damp. They have now been restored and are hanging back in the Gallery – where visitors are subjected to tighter security checks.
2. The biggest art heist in history?
The culprits of this 1990 heist are still at large today.
Just a few hours after Boston's St. Patrick's Day festivities ended, two men dressed as policemen knocked on a side door at the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.
The guards let them in – only to then realise to their horror that these were not police officers, but art thieves. The guards were handcuffed, gagged and dragged into the basement while the thieves cut three Rembrandt's from their frames, as well as "The Concert" by Johannes Vermeer and "Landscape with an Obelisk" by Govert Flinck.
In total they snatched 12 paintings worth an estimated £300 million – the paintings have never been found, and the museum never reimbursed.
3. America’s most notorious hijacker
“D. B. Cooper” is still at large after 35 years of being on the run. On November 24 1971 he hijacked Northwest Orient Airlines flight 305 with a briefcase "bomb." He handed a flight attendant a note saying "I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked."
The flight attendant alerted the pilot, who was instructed by radio control to comply with Cooper's requests, which were a parachute and $200,000.
Passengers were dropped off at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, in exchange for the parachute and cash. Loot in hand, Cooper instructed the pilot to take to the skies again, this time headed for Mexico.
When Cooper jumped from the plane, it was flying through a heavy rainstorm with no light source coming from the ground due to cloud coverage. Because of the poor visibility, his descent went unnoticed by the jet fighters tracking the airliner. He is believed to have landed around Ariel, Washington, although his precise landing zone remains unknown.
The whereabouts of the man (or his remains) has been described as “one of the great crime mysteries of our time.”
4. The Great Train Robbery
This notorious robbery involved a 15-member gang, led by Bruce Reynolds and including Ronnie Biggs, who took £2.6 million from a Royal Mail train in Buckhamshire in 1963.
The men brought the Glasgow to London mail train to a halt by tampering with the signals. They then swarmed onto the train, badly injuring the driver, and grabbed 120 mail bags containing used bank notes. Most of the gang members were caught after police discovered their fingerprints at their hideout at Leatherslade Farm, near Oakley, Buckinghamshire. The robbers were tried, sentenced and imprisoned.
Ronnie Biggs escaped from prison 15 months into his sentence and moved to Brazil – but he returned to the UK in 2001 to serve the remainder of his 30-year sentence. Charlie Wilson also escaped prison and lived in a quiet suburban street in Canada – unfortunately for him, his wife made the mistake of telephoning his parents in England, enabling Scotland Yard to track him down.
5. Brinks Mat
In 1983 six robbers broke into the Brinks Mat warehouse at Heathrow Airport, England. They were going to steal £3 million in cash; but when they arrived they found ten tonnes of gold bullion, worth £26 million.
The gang got into the warehouse thanks to security guard Anthony Black, who was the brother-in-law of the raid's architect Brian Robinson. Scotland Yard quickly discovered the family connection and Black confessed to aiding and abetting the raiders, providing them with a key to the main door and giving them details of security measures.
Robinson was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for armed robbery; Black got six years, and served three.
Three tonnes of stolen gold has never been recovered. It is claimed that anyone wearing gold jewellery bought in the UK after 1983 is probably wearing Brinks Mat.
“Shergar the wonder-horse”, who was worth around £10 million, was kidnapped from a stables owned by the Aga Khan in Ireland in 1983. The theft came just before the breeding season, where Derby winner Shergar was due to mate with up to 55 mares.
Shergar was never found and his kidnappers have never been officially identified – but most evidence points to the involvement of the IRA. The thieves demanded a ransom of £2 million, but the horses’ shareholders refused to pay. Insurers also refused to pay out without evidence of the horse’s death.
Sean O'Callaghan, a convicted murderer who turned into a supergrass against the IRA, wrote a book called The Informer in which he claims the horse died because its IRA captors could not handle the animal.
"To handle Shergar, the IRA recruited a man who had once 'worked with horses'. But working with horses is one thing: dealing with a thoroughbred stallion, which can be a difficult, highly-strung creature at the best of times, is another story altogether," he said. He goes on to claim that the horse got out of control in its horsebox, injured itself and died within days.
7. Bull semen…
From prize horses to… bull semen. It may be unsavoury, but it is worth a lot of money. In November 2005, a farmer at Stonewood Acres in Smithburg, Maryland returned to his farm to discover that a 70-pound tank filled with bull semen had been opened up, with sixty-five "straws" containing the sperm of nearly 50 bulls missing.
The missing straws were worth about $75,000. The farmer, who had taken years to build up his supply, was planning on selling the semen at a cattle show.
“Frozen bull semen is big business because it saves on the transportation cost of putting a bull and a cow into the same pen to breed. Frozen semen can also last for many years, outliving the bull who produced it,” according to the Washington Post.
The number of potential suspects was limited because of the specialized knowledge and equipment required to keep and sell the semen – yet the culprit was never found.
8. Oscar jewelry theft
This year thieves broke into the showroom of an Italian jeweler and stole £10 million worth of diamonds while its owners were in Los Angeles hosting a party to celebrate the Oscars.
The heist took place at the Damiani showroom in Milan’s fashion district as celebrities such as Tilda Swinton were sporting Damiani jewelry at the Oscar ceremony.
The thieves had spent more than a month digging a tunnel from a disused cellar in an adjoining building. Police said that the drilling had been heard for weeks but was presumed to be part of continuing building works next door.
The four men, disguised as police officers, overpowered the staff and tied them up with electrical cable, sealed their mouths with tape and locked them in the washroom. They then helped themselves to jewellery from the safe-deposit boxes and left the way they had come.
Police said that the entire operation had taken little more than 40 minutes. The employees managed to free themselves and raise the alarm, but by then the gang was long gone. The thieves, who Police say may have had “inside assistance”, have still not been caught.
9. Bank tunnel robbery
Thieves in Brazil netted $65 million after digging a 200m tunnel into a bank from a nearby house. The heist, which occurred in August 2005, is Brazil’s largest ever bank robbery. Around 10 men are thought to have spent three months digging a hole from a house that was rented in the name of a fake gardening business.
The theft happened over the weekend, but was not discovered until Monday morning because the bank was closed. Neighbours reported seeing vanloads of material being removed each day.
Only two suspects have been caught and only $500,000 has been recovered.
10. Castle tourist theft
In August 2003 a painting worth up to £50 million – Madonna with the Yarnwinder – was snatched from the Duke of Buccleuch's home at Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland. The painting was stolen by two men who joined a public tour and overpowered a guide.
Julian Radcliffe, chairman of the Art Loss Register, said such a heist "would probably be easier to do it when it was open to the public rather than at night when all the alarms were set".
The painting is still missing despite the offer of a substantial reward for information leading to the arrest of the thieves.
Yesterday saw the “Open Skies” agreement begin, seeing out the 70 year old monopoly allowing only certain airlines to fly non-stop between Heathrow and America. Under the old cartel system, the privileged four airlines were British Airways, American, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, but the new policy will now, for the first time, allow any airlines to fly between any city in Europe and any in the United States.
British Airways, the dominant power at Heathrow, is expected to be a loser from the new arrangement, but following the shameful way it has treated its customers and passengers this week, I think a lot of people will say it serves then right.
Despite the promises of airlines and EU officials, the big expansion of routes is not likely to bring fares down much for leisure travellers. With fuel prices soaring, airlines are expected to pass on the benefits mainly to the business customers who generate their main income.
Is a headline that caught my attention today. Hang on, I've been banging on about this for years, and now that Jug Ears sticks his beak in, it makes the news? Actually, that isn't fair- he has been behind the “Pub is the Hub” campaign for over six years now, but still as many as 27 village pubs are closing every week.
It's a crying shame.
Full article here: The Times
Motorists will also be given new rights to appeal against their tickets and fines after it was decided they could have their appeals heard by telephone instead of attending a hearing, in a move designed to encourage more drivers to challenge their tickets.
More than 60% of appeals are currently successful but many drivers do not realise that they have the right to have their case decided by an independent adjudicator- and there are eight million drivers who receive parking tickets each year.
Personally, if you take the chance and park in a dodgy space then be prepared to cough; you won't get any sympathy from me, but with councils resorting to all sorts of underhand and sly practices to swell their coffers, this must be welcome news.
If it proves to be the case.
From the 1st April, new rules will allow councils to control roadworks more tightly and companies will have to apply for a permit three months before digging up the road. Councils will also be able to manage when and where roadworks are carried out to reduce traffic jams and they will also be able to fine companies when/if roadworks take too long.
Good. That just leaves sorting out council efficiency next. How long do you reckon a company will need to wait after applying for such a permit?
Yes, yes, as always the green card gets pulled out at every opportunity; how very original, I'm sure. Besides, that's rich, considering flying is the airport's business...and they're the ones who set the targets.
Don't know the guy, couldn't really care less about him, but I happened to notice his title of "Sir". Where did that come from, and why? What has he done to deserve the honour; I really can't think of anything he has achieved to warrant it.
Answers on a postcard to...
Sunday, 30 March 2008
More than 20 local authorities are cutting road maintenance bills by refusing to repair potholes less than 4 cm deep and some councils have doubled the size of “actionable” potholes in recent years.
It is estimated that local authorities are facing a shortfall of more than £1 billion as they attempt to fill in 1 million potholes a year and yet concentrate their resources on traffic calming measures such as speed humps, cushions and chicanes; costing more than £100 million a year.
And the utility companies are in for some flak too; as they are responsible for digging more than 2 million trenches a year in Britain’s highways, the equivalent of one for every 200 yards of local authority road.
Good to see your road fund licence being put to such good use.
Norman Hume, Conservative cabinet member for highways and transportation at the council, admitted that the move was about saving money. He said the average pothole cost more than £200 to fill in on its own, but the price was nearer £20 if it was done as part of general resurfacing, which is carried out every 15 to 20 years.
Warren Beatty, actor, 71
Tracy Chapman, singer, 44
Eric Clapton, guitarist, 63
Robbie Coltrane, actor, 58
Sue Cook, broadcaster, 59
Céline Dion, singer, 40
Norah Jones, singer, 29
Rolf Harris, entertainer, 78
Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, 60
Piers Morgan, journalist and broadcaster, 43
Tom Sharpe, novelist, 80.
In the meantime, patients have been told they must either pay privately or return in April when the new work year begins and people suffering from toothache have been advised to go to hospital.
Classic quote from the health department, which said that "dentists should have managed their workload throughout the year".
But that's the point; they have and by being efficient is why they can put their feet up, whilst those poor people in need of treatment try and force their pain and suffering to coincide with meddling bureaucrats' schedules. You couldn't make it up.
After 65 minutes, it's Tottenham 1-3 Newcastle...
Oh well, correct result (so far) and it'll keep wifey happy. As said, it doesn't make a huge amount of difference to us in the league, so good luck to The Toon but I expect some great quotes from Keegan after this mind.
Final score: Spurs 1, Newcastle 4. You do someone a favour and they take the piss- that's just not on and Wor Kev is staying remarkably quiet too. 'S not fair.
Meanwhile Britain's James Toseland was pushed back into sixth on the final bend and Casey Stoner finished 11th after twice running onto the gravel. Here's how they stand after two rounds:
1 D Pedrosa 41 pts
2 J Lorenzo 36
3 V Rossi 31
4 C Stoner 30
5 A Dovizioso 21
6 J Toseland 20
7 L Capirossi 19
8 N Hayden 19
9 J Hopkins 13
10 S Nakano 10
And the rest of the calendar:
9 March- Qatar, Losail
30 March- Spain, Jerez
13 April- Portugal, Estoril
4 May- China, Shanghai
18 May- France, Le Mans
1 June- Italy, Mugello
8 June- Catalunya, Barcelona
22 June- Great Britain, Donington Park
28 June- Netherlands, Assen
13 July- Germany, Sachsenring
20 July- United States, Laguna Seca
17 August- Czech Republic, Brno
31 August- San Marino, Misano
14 September- Indianapolis, Indianapolis
28 September- Japan, Motegi
5 October- Australia, Phillip Island
19 October- Malaysia, Sepang*
26 October- Valencia, Valenciana
*We are hoping to be there. :-D
Sounds like she has all the credentials for being the next president of the United States to me.
Barack Obama, whose mother is from Kansas, can claim at least six US presidents as distant cousins, including George W Bush and his father, Gerald R Ford, Lyndon B Johnson, Harry S Truman, and James Madison and other cousins include British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill -- and Brad Pitt who is a ninth cousin linked back Edwin Hickman who died in Virginia in 1769.
Hillary Clinton, shares a common ancestor with Pitt's partner, actress Angelina Jolie- Clinton and Jolie are ninth cousins twice removed linked by Jean Cusson of St. Sulpice, Quebec, who died in 1718. She is also a cousin of a number of famous people with French Canadian ancestry, including Madonna (ninth cousins linked by Pierre Gagne of Quebec who died in 1656) Celine Dion, and Alanis Morissette, as well as author Jack Kerouac. Another cousin is Camilla Parker-Bowles, wife of Prince Charles.
John McCain, is a sixth cousin of Laura Bush but it was hard track other ancestors.
Kind of peters out after the first rush, wouldn't you say?
A married couple paid 120 000€ (~£94 000) for their new home in the Umbrian town of Spoleto which included all the furniture and fittings, right down to the coffee cups, which they "considered it the deal of the century." They had scarcely moved in when on the first night, they were awoken by boiling hot water flowing out of the tap and leaving the bathroom full of steam.
The next morning they awoke again, this time to find "luminous green mould all over the walls" and from there on it g0t worse; with the sound of chains rattling and the lawnmower and his wife's car spontaneously combusting.
It turns out the property had been built close to the disused Pozzi Ginori cemetery, and that strange goings-on at the address during the 1970s had necessitated an exorcism - and prompted a visit from Perugia University's paranormal research team.
Their lawyer said: "We have a good case, under article 1490 of Italian law, you have to tell buyers if there is anything wrong. I think that the previous owners will settle out of court." A local historian, also confirmed that an exorcism had been performed on a girl in the house in 1977.
Now that is spooky.
A study has shown that the unique mix of Irish, Welsh and Lancashire tones, with its guttural and nasal delivery, is creeping out of Merseyside and along the west coast, with the Liverpudlian tongue adopted in parts of Lancashire and Cheshire. However, traditional Liverpudlians may not be so pleased to know that the new generation is speaking an updated accent that contains elements of Estuary English from the south-east.
Researchers found that pronunciations such as "fick" (thick) and "Smiff" (Smith) - once spoken as "tick" and "Smit" in Scouse - are being incorporated into the Liverpudlian accent.
I wonder if it's just the accent that is becoming popular or some of their other customs too? ;-)
Nicked from the Telegraph
In previously-unnoticed remarks made last week in a Commons debate on the employment of relations by MPs, Mr Mullin said:
"Spending the entire allowance has become a target to be aimed for, rather than recompense for expenses legitimately incurred. That is one of things that have got us into the trouble."
How refreshing. (He is among the lowest-claiming MPs, having received £13 591 in 2006/07, whereas about three-quarters of MPs claimed within a few hundred pounds of the maximum.)
Three years ago I asked the House of Commons for details of MPs' second-home expenses under the Freedom of Information Act. The Information Commissioner ordered partial disclosure, then the Information Tribunal went further by demanding full disclosure. Last week I thought my wait was finally over.
But the deadline for the Commons to release the paperwork came and went, and the following day the Speaker, Michael Martin, and his House of Commons Commission defied the rulings and appealed to the High Court. Now, thousands more pounds of taxpayers' money will be wasted as lawyers thrash out the argument all over again.
While the taxpayer has funded lawyers' bills on both side of the argument, I am the only party in the case who is not even legally represented; I put my case in person at the tribunal, and I will do the same at the High Court if I get the chance.
The Speaker says his objection is to the release of MPs' home addresses. I suspect this is a convenient ruse for old-guard MPs who do not want any scrutiny of how they spend their Additional Costs Allowance (ACA), which provides them with up to £23,000 a year for rent, mortgage, furniture and groceries.
At the very least, they may hope to delay disclosure until after the House's own expenses review has reported in the summer.
When expenses details eventually come out for every MP (and I am sure that they will), a few careers could come a cropper. The disclosures might identify a number who have played fast and loose with the Commons rules to claim money they were not entitled to.
There are three journalists involved in this case but it was I who specifically asked the tribunal to order the disclosure of addresses. Lawyers for the Commons objected on security grounds; the tribunal panel considered that argument, but sided with me, stating: "Since at least one address of an MP will be in the public domain in any event, we do not consider that there would ordinarily be a sufficient reason for keeping a further address confidential, particularly when the scrutiny of the identity of second homes is part of the reason for disclosure."
General election ballot papers carry a home address for every candidate. It is only one address, not both; but surely if a crazed constituent wants to attack an MP he will travel to the address that is already public, rather than wait for the disclosure of a second. I cannot think of any MP who has come under attack at home since the plot to kill Tom King in the Eighties - and he was a Northern Ireland Secretary whose address would be exempt from disclosure in any event.
Revealing addresses is essential so that the press and public can detect and deter unfounded expenses claims, since the Commons authorities have shown themselves unable to. The tribunal called the expenses regime "lax" and "a recipe for confusion, inconsistency and the risk of misuse".
It said: "The ACA system is deeply unsatisfactory, and the shortfall both in transparency and in accountability is acute."
A few MPs have already been caught out. Michael Trend, the former Tory MP, lived in his Windsor constituency.
He told the Commons his "main home" was a friend's address in London, to claim ACA on the Windsor property. The Commons did not spot this; when it emerged in 2002 that he had broken the rules, Mr Trend had to retire.
If a similar case arose today, Mr Martin's demand that addresses should remain secret would effectively cover it up. Merely seeing receipts for furniture and rent, without addresses, would not be enough to show whether an MP had only one home.
Nick and Ann Winterton, the Tory MPs, were found to be paying rent to a family trust on a property they had previously owned, and claiming it on expenses, all within the rules.
To expose future cases such as this, the details released under Freedom of Information must include the identity of an MP's landlord. But if the Speaker wins his High Court challenge, he could go on to argue that landlords' names must stay secret to avoid also giving clues to addresses.
What if an MP has only one home, but buys a buy-to-let flat and claims mortgage interest on expenses for that second property while renting it to tenants?
At present, the Commons would take the MP at his or her word, and would not check who was living at the flat. Merely disclosing the mortgage statement would not tell us what we need to know; only if the address is disclosed will journalists and constituents be able to uncover the deception.
If the Speaker gets his way, the public will remain in the dark and MPs will continue to be able to cheat. The taxpayer will lose out, but the biggest losers will be the vast majority of law-abiding MPs, who will linger under the cloud of suspicion. That is why there is growing unease at Westminster over Mr Martin's stubborn approach.
Hospitals are throwing away as much as half of their food, with nearly 13 million* meals being discarded. Figures show that thirty three hospitals dump more than a quarter of their food, whilst two chuck out more than was eaten.
And yet almost 140 000 patients left hospital malnourished, double the figure a decade ago.
How does that work then?
*In total, 12.6 million hospital meals in England were thrown away in 2006/2007 - either because patients could not face them, were not given help eating, or because wasteful bulk systems failed to match orders with requirements.
What BA said before the opening:
“Will T5 open without a hiccup? Yes and yes.”
Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways in The Sunday Times last year
“We have done as much as we possibly can and we are ready. Our customers will absolutely love T5 and our people will love working there.”
Walsh, writing in British Airways News, 20th March
“The terminal will be fantastic. I think it’s particularly pleasing that we’ll get an opportunity to do a better job at Heathrow when we move into Terminal 5.”
Walsh, the day before the terminal opened What BA said after the shambles
“I’m sorry for passengers, and I’m sorry for staff. If you want to blame someone, you should blame me.”
Walsh on Friday
Terminal 5 cost £4.3 billion and took more than ﬁve years to build. Designed to handle 30 million passengers a year, it has a computerised baggage system capable of processing 12 000 cases an hour on 11 miles of conveyor belts travelling at up to 23 mph. The terminal’s ﬁve ﬂoors could accommodate 50 football pitches.
THE OPENING REALITY
The baggage system ground to a halt from overloading. Mountains of bags from transfer passengers are stuck in storage at other Heathrow terminals. More than 240 ﬂights were cancelled in the ﬁrst three days, affecting 20 000 passengers. Thousands more have suffered delays.
We tried in vain and the film soon made us forget the time, (the yawning continued to remind us just how late it was getting though) until we reached the dreaded ad break after a mere 40 minutes or so. They lasted close to fifteen minutes (have you ever even tried to sit through ads that long before; at nearly 01:00? It's certainly character building) and we thought we were back. Nope, they then insisted on a news round up, which could have gone on all night for all we know- we just gave up and died.
No wonder the Greeks are always scowling and irritated/bad tempered if this is how they watch their films on TV- I'd be more than just upset. And if you've never seen the film before, here's what one (amateur) reviewer on IMDB commented about it:
Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) is informed by his mother Sandra Bloom (Jessica Lange) that his father Ed Bloom (Albert Finney) is terminal, and he travels with his French pregnant wife Josephine (Marion Cotillard) to his parents' home.
Will and Ed have broken relationship three years before, because of the imaginative and fantasized stories told by Ed Bloom about his accomplishments in his youth. Will tries to find the true story of the mysterious life of his father, coming to a surprising discovery in the end.
I am a great fan of Tim Burton, and I really believe that "Big Fish", together with "Ed Wood", are his best works. Beginning with a wonderful and very optimistic fairytale in a magic screenplay, about a very supportive storyteller and dreamer, who sees the world with beautiful eyes.
The selection of the cast is another point to be highlighted: the resemblance between the outstanding actress Alison Lohman, from "White Oleander" and "Matchstick Men", and the still very gorgeous and also excellent actress Jessica Lange, is amazing. Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney are also a great choice for the role of Ed Bloom.
Although having a convincing performance, Billy Crudup is in a lower level of performance, when comparing with the rest of the cast, which has names such as Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito. "Big Fish" is the type of movie good to be seen many times.
My vote is ten.
So would my vote be for this film, and we missed it.
Although it is only the second race of the season, it is already showing that it is not going by the form of the previous years and suggests it will not be dominated by the usual suspects; man or machine. Plus, we've a home grown Brit (and all round top blurk) more than just impressing in his first year of the premier league class.
James Toseland gets to 8th spot on the grid today, right alongside current world champion Casey Stoner and a couple of places off the legendary Valentino Rossi. Bring it on.
We'll be off this afternoon in the hope of finding a bar that will be showing the racing live on a wide screen and so what if the commentary is all Greek- with the passion of the punters watching, keeping pace of what is going on will be a doddle.
For some proper write ups/news/knowledge and reporting, pop over to MadTV- it rocks. And after such bigging up, he may even pull his finger out and start keeping up to date. ;o)
Qualifying result for Jerez MotoGP:
1 J Lorenzo (Sp) Yamaha 1.38.189
2 D Pedrosa (Sp) Honda 1.38.789
3 C Edwards (US) Yamaha 1:38.954
4 N Hayden (US) Honda 1:39.061
5 V Rossi (It) Yamaha 1:39.064
6 R de Puniet (Fr) Honda 1:39.122
7 C Stoner (Aus) Ducati 1:39.286
8 J Toseland (GB) Yamaha 1:39.334
9 J Hopkins (US) Kawasaki 1:39.439
10 L Capirossi (It) Suzuki 1:39.439
In their 154th meet, Oxford beat the other lot by rowing a bit faster to take their fifth win in seven years. It was on TV and I'm sure some people would have watched it. Whilst I admire the discipline and dedication of the rowers, I still can't see the fascination and nor why it is televised on prime time television. But, as the BBC keep reminding us, it responds to the sporting viewer's demands.
All six of them. Anyway, if you missed the race, don't worry; it'll be back next year once again. Yawn...
Cambridge lead the series 79-74, with one dead heat in 1877.
Estimates range from 15 to 20 thousand bags stranded at T5
The chief executive of British Airways, Willie Walsh, has responded with yet another understatement by admitting that the opening of Heathrow's Terminal 5 was "not our finest hour".
What, with the cancellation of 68 flights on Thursday, 72 yesterday, a further 66 today and an expected 37 flights to be cancelled tomorrow? Sounds like business as usual.
The Prime Minister had declared he wanted all wards to be cleaned to "industrial standards", in a bid to reduce the 8 000 deaths a year caused by superbugs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile. Unfortunately, what McBroon wants and gets are usually separate issues as hospitals continue to scoff at any set targets and instead spend their time counting the money they are saving by ignoring said goals and objectives.
More details here: Telegraph
- Boil up some water and chuck in the pasta
- Add some frozen sweet corn just before the the pasta is "al dente"
- Drain off the water
- Whilst still hot, lob in a large (300g) tub of Philadelphia (full fat, semi-fat, with/without chives, just go with what you have and live dangerously)
- Add a tin or two of tuna and some chopped olives (optional)
- Season as you prefer, add any spices/herbs you like
Boshed out in less than 15 minutes and gone in less than five.
I've never been a fan of the standard limit as it varies hugely from person to person depending on size, tolerance, metabolic rate, etc; there are so many contributing factors, which in turn gave people a false impression they could sink anything from 1 to 4 units or pints.
With the new limits, you'd over the top after one "strong" beer or glass of wine, so at least you know where you stand and there is less ambiguity. Good.
Road safety "experts" have concluded it would save 65 lives every year.
Perhaps he has another reason for his reluctance to accept the decision? Like home and garden?
Refurbishing them has cost the taxpayer £1.7 million so far, which includes more than £700 000 on furnishing and improving his official residence.
Information gained by the Telegraph, released under freedom of information laws shows that since 2001, £148 900 has been spent on furniture for Speakers House; £191 000 on a new air-conditioning system; £13 000 on art and £291 000 on "building restoration and refurbishment". In total, taxpayers have spent £724 600 on the residence since Mr Martin, 62, became Speaker in October 2000. A further £992 000 has been spent on the Speaker's garden although most of this work has been to improve security.
The total expenditure on Mr Martin's residence is therefore more than £1.7 million.
*NOTE: Last week, he launched a High Court attempt to stop a breakdown of MPs' expenditure on their second homes being released. The release had been ordered by the Information Commissioner and by an information tribunal and David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg have all said they are happy for the information to be published. The Liberal Democrats have decided unilaterally to release their expense claims next month.
Mr Martin, who is paid £138 724, has also refused to give up rights to one of the most generous pension schemes in the country. He will receive half his salary as a pension until he dies. Similar schemes were previously available to the Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor but have been scrapped.
Southend 1-0 Walsall (HT 0-0)
Bookings: Bradley 9 Roper 27 - both for Walsall.
And happily, Bielefeld got the draw (1-1 away to Hamburg) I was hoping for and not the 0-3 loss I had guessed. This was still not enough to keep them dropping back into 16th (18) spot and facing relegation, but we still have a few games to go, so time to start praying...
Tomorrow the big one, Spurs at home to the Toon. It's going to be messy, and that's just here. ;-)
Saturday, 29 March 2008
“Regrettably, we are unable to provide you with a hotel room during this disruption. If you make your own arrangements, we will be happy to consider reimbursement of some of your out-of-pocket expenses.”
It then listed the maximum amounts that passengers could claim, including £100 for two people sharing a hotel room. The problem was that staff at the terminal’s hotels reservation centre said that the minimum rate on Thursday night for a double room was £250.
EU regulations also require airlines to provide hotels for all passengers delayed overnight and do not set any maximum cost. They also state that passengers must be informed of their full rights under the regulation, including compensation of up to £460 for cancelled flights and two free phone calls. The letter did not mention the regulation, compensation or phone calls.
BA issued a statement last night saying:
“We do not believe it was a breach of the regulation. We will consider claims on a case by case basis.”
Well, let's hope each and everyone who has had their holiday or business trip ruined by the profit-grabbing, shysters takes them royally to the cleaners and gets not only what they are entitled to, but this bullying, dismissive attitude from BA is never to be repeated. As if...
As with all good senior management, they completely ignored the advice, instead stating that they had been training staff and carrying out trials for six months. Maybe, but whose staff? Not theirs it would seem, as BA baggage handlers said they had received only a cursory introduction. One said:
“The familiarisation was just a walk-through the terminal and a lecture on what a wonderful building it was.”
I know which version I believe and judging by the results, so now does the rest of the world.
Keeping good company with previous famous last quotes (see any of the former Eng-er-land football managers "of course we will win the World Cup", BLiar with "they definitely have WMD" and husbands all over the world "no dear, your arse fits perfectly into that dress"), Mike Forster, BAA’s strategy director, joins the list:
“We have a world-class baggage system that is going to work perfectly on day one.”
Good work fellah, you've got the job for life.
Not only that, but with prices for a rib eye steak at £19 and £18 for a small strip of sea bass, plus chips at £2.95 extra, his pricing structure is anything but plain as well.
Fish & chips for over a score? In your language Gordon, fuck off, eh?
For a trifling sum of $5.50 you can plant a tree at My Baby Tree which also includes lifelong care and feeding, scientific study of the forest that it becomes a part of, and the exact coordinates of where that tree is, on the island of Borneo.
"Your baby tree will be planted in the next few days. Once that is done, we will mail you the exact location and you will be able to see your tree on Google Earth."
If not for yourself, it would make a great present for a hippy and is far better than Earth Hour...
Unfortunately, they seem to have sussed out I go on the cadge and pilf stuff from other sites and they have some how made their images copy proof, so instead here's a link, if you're interested: Bank Notes
It's worth a look, there really are some amazing designs and the artwork is beautiful.
WASHINGTON—Approximately 550 mongers in the fields of war, hate, and fear mongered together at the Washington D.C. Marriott last week as part of the 34th annual mongering conference. According an itinerary released by the National Mongering Council, the three-day summit featured monger-building activities from 9 a.m. to noon, optional night-mongering seminars, and three meals a day to promote social mongering. "This is the greatest collection of mongering minds in our generation, making the conference a prime target for any number of horrific biological and terrorist attacks," fearmonger Gerald Sachs mongered. "Of course, with the current political and social climate, the main question is whether next year will be anywhere near as mongerly." None in attendance could confirm whether they would be present at next week's fish- and whoremongering conference in El Paso, TX.