Monday, 31 August 2009

Up in Smoke

In North Carolina all convenience stores must, by law, offer cigarettes for sale.

I wonder how long that is going to last?

Traffic Light GP



Yes, another duff vid clip but this time showing you that we weren't making stuff up about the traffic here. This was around 17:30 and quite mild compared to some days but it will give you an idea of how mental things are. Great fun. :-)

Accidents Can Be Good

We tend to hold inventors in high esteem, but often their discoveries were the result of an accident or twist of fate. This is true of many everyday items, including the following surprise inventions.

1. Play-Doh

One smell most people remember from childhood is the odor of Play-Doh, the brightly-colored, nontoxic modeling clay. Play-Doh was accidentally invented in 1955 by Joseph and Noah McVicker while trying to make a wallpaper cleaner. It was marketed a year later by toy manufacturer Rainbow Crafts. More than 700 million pounds of Play-Doh have sold since then, but the recipe remains a secret.

2. Fireworks

Fireworks originated in China some 2,000 years ago, and legend has it that they were accidentally invented by a cook who mixed together charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter -- all items commonly found in kitchens in those days. The mixture burned and when compressed in a bamboo tube, it exploded. There's no record of whether it was the cook's last day on the job.

Fireworks were created by a cook using common kitchen items.
Fireworks were created by a cook
using kitchen items.

3. Potato Chips

If you can't eat just one potato chip, blame it on chef George Crum. He reportedly created the salty snack in 1853 at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York. Fed up with a customer who continuously sent his fried potatoes back, complaining that they were soggy and not crunchy enough, Crum sliced the potatoes as thin as possible, fried them in hot grease, then doused them with salt. The customer loved them and "Saratoga Chips" quickly became a popular item at the lodge and throughout New England.

Eventually, the chips were mass-produced for home consumption, but since they were stored in barrels or tins, they quickly went stale. Then, in the 1920s, Laura Scudder invented the airtight bag by ironing together two pieces of waxed paper, thus keeping the chips fresh longer. Today, chips are packaged in plastic or foil bags or cardboard containers and come in a variety of flavors, including sour cream and onion, barbecue, and salt and vinegar.

4. Slinky

In 1943, naval engineer Richard James was trying to develop a spring that would support and stabilize sensitive equipment on ships. When one of the springs accidentally fell off a shelf, it continued moving, and James got the idea for a toy. His wife Betty came up with the name, and when the Slinky made its debut in late 1945, James sold 400 of the bouncy toys in 90 minutes. Today, more than 250 million Slinkys have been sold worldwide.

5. Saccharin

Saccharin, the oldest artificial sweetener, was accidentally discovered in 1879 by researcher Constantine Fahlberg, who was working at Johns Hopkins University in the laboratory of professor Ira Remsen. Fahlberg's discovery came after he forgot to wash his hands before lunch. He had spilled a chemical on his hands and it, in turn, caused the bread he ate to taste unusually sweet.

In 1880, the two scientists jointly published the discovery, but in 1884, Fahlberg obtained a patent and began mass-producing saccharin without Remsen. The use of saccharin did not become widespread until sugar was rationed during World War I, and its popularity increased during the 1960s and 1970s with the manufacture of Sweet'N Low and diet soft drinks.

6. Post-it Notes

A Post-it note is a small piece of paper with a strip of low-tack adhesive on the back that allows it to be temporarily attached to documents, walls, computer monitors, and just about anything else. The idea for the Post-it note was conceived in 1974 by Arthur Fry as a way of holding bookmarks in his hymnal while singing in the church choir. He was aware of an adhesive accidentally developed in 1968 by fellow 3M employee Spencer Silver. No application for the lightly sticky stuff was apparent until Fry's idea. The 3M company was initially skeptical about the product's profitability, but in 1980, the product was introduced around the world. Today, Post-it notes are sold in more than 100 countries.

7. Silly Putty

It bounces, it stretches, it breaks -- it's Silly Putty, the silicone-based plastic clay marketed as a children's toy by Binney & Smith, Inc. During World War II, while attempting to create a synthetic rubber substitute, James Wright dropped boric acid into silicone oil. The result was a polymerized substance that bounced, but it took several years to find a use for the product.

Finally, in 1950, marketing expert Peter Hodgson saw its potential as a toy, renamed it Silly Putty, and a classic toy was born! Not only is it fun, Silly Putty also has practical uses -- it picks up dirt, lint, and pet hair; can stabilize wobbly furniture; and is useful in stress reduction, physical therapy, and in medical and scientific simulations. It was even used by the crew of Apollo 8 to secure tools in zero gravity.

8. Microwave Ovens

The microwave oven is now a standard appliance in most American households, but it has only been around since the late 1940s. In 1945, Percy Spencer was experimenting with a new vacuum tube called a magnetron while doing research for the Raytheon Corporation. He was intrigued when the candy bar in his pocket began to melt, so he tried another experiment with popcorn. When it began to pop, Spencer immediately saw the potential in this revolutionary process.

In 1947, Raytheon built the first microwave oven, the Radarange, which weighed 750 pounds, was 51/2 feet tall, and cost about $5,000. When the Radarange first became available for home use in the early 1950s, its bulky size and expensive price tag made it unpopular with consumers. But in 1967, a much more popular 100-volt, countertop version was introduced at a price of $495.

9. Corn Flakes

In 1894, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was the superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. He and his brother Will Keith Kellogg were Seventh Day Adventists, and they were searching for wholesome foods to feed patients that also complied with the Adventists' strict vegetarian diet. When Will accidentally left some boiled wheat sitting out, it went stale by the time he returned. Rather than throw it away, the brothers sent it through rollers, hoping to make long sheets of dough, but they got flakes instead. They toasted the flakes, which were a big hit with patients, and patented them under the name Granose. The brothers experimented with other grains, including corn, and in 1906, Will created the Kellogg's company to sell the corn flakes. On principle, John refused to join the company because Will lowered the health benefits of the cereal by adding sugar.

From here.

Tough Job

Click to Enlarge

'S True

In London an old priest lay dying in the hospital. For years he had faithfully served the people of the nation's capital. He motioned for his nurse to come near.


"Yes, Father?" said the nurse.


"I would really like to see Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling MP before I die", whispered the priest.


"I'll see what I can do, Father", replied the nurse.


The nurse sent the request to The Houses of Parliament and waited for a response. Soon the word arrived; Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling would be delighted to visit the priest. As they went to the hospital, Brown commented to Darling,

"I don't know why the old priest wants to see us, but it certainly will help our images and might even get me re-elected".

Darling agreed that it was good thing. When they arrived at the priest's room, the priest took Brown's hand in his right hand and Darling's hand in his left. There was silence and a look of serenity on the old priest's face.

Finally Gordon Brown spoke. "Father, of all the people you could have chosen, why did you choose us to be with you as you near the end?"

The old priest slowly replied, "I have always tried to pattern my life after Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ."

"Amen", said Brown.

"Amen", said Darling.

The old priest continued,

"Jesus died between two lying thieves; I would like to do the same..."

Cheers, Brendan. Not the best but certainly good to see our old pals McBroon and Darling being the butt of the joke. As in real life.

It Made the Press

Bank holiday travel chaos on M5

The man and police negotiators were locked in a stand-off from 1pm on the bridge on the northbound carriageway of the motorway near Bristol.

The man, thought to be in his late 50s and from Bristol, jumped into the water below shortly after 7.30pm. Coastguards later recovered his body.

The northbound carriageway of the M5 was closed from around 2pm between junction 19 at Portishead and junction 18 at Avonmouth.

Queues of traffic for 28 miles built up as bank holiday weekend motorists found themselves at a standstill.

Roads around Somerset and Bristol were also jammed.

Highway Agency officers handed out bottles of water to the stranded drivers and their passengers.

Three of the four northbound lanes were reopened just after 8pm but motorists were warned traffic would be moving slowly for some time.

Avon and Somerset Police's Professional Standards Department has been informed and the incident is being referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

A spokesman said: "The welfare of this man, coupled with the safety of emergency services personnel at the scene and concerns for other road users who were becoming distracted by the incident, prompted police to close the M5 northbound.

"Being a Friday and a Bank Holiday (weekend), this incident caused considerable congestion, with traffic queuing as far back as Bridgwater in the northbound carriageway, and with traffic travelling south experiencing severe disruption.

"Decisions to enforce significant road closures are not taken lightly by the force, and are only taken in cases where there is considerable risk to life or safety."

Assistant Chief Constable John Long said: "While many motorists were understandably frustrated and angry about the disruption and delays to their journey, the safety of everyone concerned was the paramount priority.

"We are grateful to those motorists, their families, friends and everyone else who has been affected by this tragic incident, for their patience and co-operation."

It'll be interesting to hear bruv's version of events, but I reckon it will be a country mile away from what Plod are guffing on about.

And the only reason I've included the picture above (from TTel) is that the burd on the LHS on the hard shoulder looks like the spit of my sister-in-law. I'm sure it's not, as the picture has two older boys with her and they only have one (the second is still too young), but I had to do a double take.

Cambodia Here We Come

A TTel reader has asked for advice for a trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which is where we are going to be in November with my m-i-l. They replied as follows:

It's easy to visit Angkor Wat under your own steam. Buy a flight to Siem Reap and choose a hotel near the ruins. I would organise a guide and driver for the first day. Use this time to drive through the core site and on to some of the outlying temple complexes. Then, if you are a fairly confident rider, rent bicycles to explore the Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom complexes. There are quiet lanes for cyclists and the whole experience is far more atmospheric. Try to visit the Angkor Wat at lunchtime, when most visitors return to their hotels for lunch. The best guide is Dawn Rooney's Angkor, published by Odyssey Books but laser-printed in Cambodia, where it should cost only a few dollars from a small boy.

For a sundowner drink, visit the former Foreign Correspondents' Club, a beautiful art deco house that also has bedrooms (www.fcccambodia.com).

Try to time your visit to include a Saturday night. A Swiss doctor puts on a fund-raising cello concert and talks about his work in Cambodia. It is a thought-provoking experience.

Wifey has done her research and is primed and ready. :o)

She has already sussed out the site passes we need (1 day, 3 day and 7 day), we've booked our accommodation and she is fully aware of the good doctor and his cello concertos. He puts them on to fund his children's hospital.

This is clearly a great cause, but I can't abide string quartets and the associated music so I will leave the ladies to it on that night. However, the landmine museum will be worth a visit, so there is plenty to see and do for us all.


Worth Their Wedge?

The Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival has listed the percentage of members of the public who believe TV personalities' salaries are justified:

1. Michael Palin 30%

2. Stephen Fry 27%

3. David Dimbleby 22%

4. Jeremy Clarkson 21%

=4. Jeremy Paxman 21%

6. Sue Barker 16%

7. Lord Sugar 15%

=7. Bruce Forsyth 15%

9. Kirsty Young 11%

=9. Natasha Kaplinsky 11%

11. Alan Carr 10%

=11. Gordon Ramsay 10%

13. Jonathan Ross 9%

=13. Davina McCall 9%

=13. Simon Cowell 9%

16. Richard and Judy 7%

17. Piers Morgan 6%

I'm rather pleased that I don't have to endure some of these "stars" on my television. I am also even happier not having to pay the BBC licence. :o)

Top Slot in Ten

Tom Daley, the British diving world champion who switched schools earlier in the year following bullying, achieved an A* in his GCSE Combined Sciences that he took a year early.

Not something that is likely to make the headlines in its own right, but it's the way he did it that sparks my interest. He only studied the course for ten days. He said:

''All the hard work has paid off - although I must admit to being a bit worried about preparing in ten days. I literally had to learn the whole syllabus in that timescale as well as preparing and training for the world champs.

'Fortunately, the preparation* I received from school was thorough, but I must admit to being very nervous.''

Now, he's obviously a bright lad and well done to him, but isn't this making a mockery of the standard of the exams? How can anyone pass a science test that is designed to be covered in two years, in just ten days? And not just pass it, but ace it to boot. Sorry, something is definitely not right there.



* He had intensive one-to-one tuition with teacher.

Cracked Suggests How to Duff People


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Just The Facts

  1. Martial arts is the best way to kill someone when no weapons are available.
  2. Martial arts is the best way to kill someone even when weapons are available.
  3. Martial arts has inspired various movies and video games and romance novels.

Styles of Martial Arts:

See Cracked article: 6 Great Martial Arts for Killing a Man with Your Bare Hands.

Krav Maga:

It was developed by Israelis who got together to protect themselves from Hitler. Krav Maga is the martial art of the Israeli special forces. As a matter of fact, Krav Maga means "Oh shit, let's get out of here" in Palestinian. Unlike most other martial arts, Krav Maga focuses on defending knife and gun attacks and killing/gouging out the eyes of/groin smashing multiple attackers as well as deadly strikes.

Ninjitsu:

Ninjas are secret assassins from Japan. Batman trained in ninjitsu.

When ninjas go out to kill someone or make a movie, they always make sure they are prepared. Here are some of the things ninjas typically bring with them:

Pictured above: ninja outfit, ninja sword, ninja boots, and ninja climbing claws.

The ancient art of the ninja was almost lost until the spirit of capitalism aroused the dormant assassin. A drama student named Stephen Hayes went to Japan to search out the ancient art. He met a man named Masaaki Hatsumi, who taught him the way of the ninja and they have been selling it and writing books about it ever since. For $35.00, you too can learn the secrets of the ninja with this:


Here's one of the ninja secrets: What do ninjas eat? Brown rice. If you are out on an assassination job and can't cook it on the stove, put it on a hot rock and let it cook in the sun. For the rest of the secrets, you will have to buy the book.

Karate:

Karate was developed in Okinawa and focuses primarily on strikes and stances and kata - a series of rehearsed movements. Karate also has belts ranging from white to black. Traditionally, the belts weren't colored. They were just the only part of the uniform that never got washed, so a fighter's belt got darker with training.

Kung Fu:

Unlike other martial arts styles, kung fu is fucking weird. Kung fu lethally combines the moves of the praying mantis, the monkey, the drunkard, silk button up pajamas, and bizzare weapons.

Kung fu is one of the fastest martial arts. It has such moves as the one inch punch, which kind of makes up for the weirdness:

Aikido:

Perhaps the only martial art without any strikes. It relies on joint locks and using your opponent's momentum against him. Steven Seagal uses Aikido.

In his movies/SNES video games, Steven Seagal uses a bastardized version of Aikido because a martial arts movie/game with no kicking or punching is lame:

Muay Thai:

Muay Thai has some of the most deadly strikes in martial arts. Muay Thai weapons include the elbows, the knees, and the shins.

See how Muay Thai matches up against other martial arts, courtesy of National Geographic:


Jeet Kune Do:

Jeet Kune Do was invented by Bruce Lee. He took the best parts of different martial arts and stitched together JKD. It focuses mainly on hopping around, making noises, and keeping your mouth open. And kicking ass. One of Bruce Lee's students asked him one time advice on how to make his kicks faster. Bruce Lee responded, "Kick faster."


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:

Made popular by the Gracies in Brazil, BJJ focuses on joint locks and chokes. If a fight goes to the ground, it will be won by whoever has better BJJ.


Capoeira:

Capoeira was developed by African slaves taken to Brazil. It is a mixture of dance and ass kicking.

Martial Arts in Movies:

Enter the Dragon:

Effect on pop culture martial arts: Set the standard for bad ass.

Bruce Lee goes to a martial arts tournament held by an international one-armed drug lord. Bruce Lee is up against killer prostitutes, mirrors, snakes, martial arts soldiers, the man who raped his sister and dishonored his temple, and the one armed drug lord himself. Unlike your typical one-armed drug lord, this drug lord knows kung fu and has interchangeable knife/claw hands.

Kung Fu Hustle:

The effect on martial arts pop culture: The first romantic comedy about kung fu. Paved the way for men being able to watch kung fu movies with their girlfriends.

A romantic comedy about Kung Fu, Chinese Mafia, poverty, and hatchet murders.

Shaolin Soccer (same cast): Kind of like Happy Gilmore, but replace Hockey with Kung Fu, golf with soccer, and Adam Sandler with a guy who has skill.

Karate Kid:

The effect on martial arts pop culture: showed everyone that with minimal training, you can challenge black belts in martial arts and steal their ex-girlfriends.

Daniel moves to Modesto and gets beat up by local hooligans. The maintenance man in his apartment building is Asian, and naturally Daniel assumes that the Asian man can teach him karate. The Asian man makes Daniel do manual labor for him and Daniel infers a mastery of karate from this and also watches the maintenance man practicing a kick at the beach. The hooligans challenge Daniel to a karate tournament and Daniel wins using the kick he saw the maintenance man use on the beach.

Ong Bak:

Effect on pop culture martial arts: Brings Muay Thai into the picture as the world's most deadly martial art.

Thai mafia saws off the head of Ong Bak, a small village's Buddha statue. The village, without the spiritual protection of the Ong Bak, the village becomes victim to drought and sends the village Muay Thai warrior, played by Tony Jaa, into the city to recapture Ong Bak's head. Tony Jaa messes up everyone who gets in his way. As if the storyline needed any help, cage fighters keep getting in his way and in order to get Ong Bak's head back, he must fight in a series of underground martial arts matches. Also, there is a golf cart chase scene that has explosions.

The Protector (same cast): Tony Jaa is from a small village in Thailand. Thai mafia Australia branch steals two of Tony Jaa's elephants and take them back to Australia. Tony Jaa goes to Australia to get his elephants back and messes up everyone who gets in his way. Tony Jaa shows off his ability to fight thousands of men at a time.

The Perfect Weapon:

The effect on martial arts pop culture: Showed good old fashioned karate can still mess people up.

Jeffrey Speakman is an out of control youth. The only thing that can calm his savagery is the discipline of Kempo Karate and Escrima sticks. He becomes a deadly dangerous rugged tight jeaned loner with the speed of a rattlesnake. Then, Chinese mafia members kill his sensei. The only way to get to the bottom of the murder is punching, kicking, and using Escrima sticks to fight his way to the mafia leader.

Best of the Best:

The effect on martial arts pop culture: Created the genre: martial arts action drama.

James Earl Jones is putting together a team of elite martial artists to compete in a Korean Tae Kwon Do match. In doing so, he sets the stage for martial arts action drama. Here's how: 1) A one-eyed member of the Korean team killed the older brother of one of the members of the American team, and 2) Julia Roberts's brother is on the American's team. All sorts of martial arts and drama ensue. It cumulates with both teams hugging each other's broken bodies at the end of the tournament and crying.

Ricki-Oh:

The effect on martial arts pop culture: pioneer film in martial arts extreme violence.

Ricki-oh uses his martial arts skills to punch holes in people, punch people's heads off, punch their arms off, and just mess people up hardcore. The low budget for special effects combined with the high creativity for death scenes created an unrivaled recipe for campiness.

American Ninja:

The effect on martial arts pop culture: Displays some of the many powers of the ninja, such as catching arrows in mid air and shooting lasers, which paved the way for the commercial whoring of Ninjitsu.

A band of ninjas attack a military base. The ninjas assumed that since the it was an American military base, that there wouldn't be any ninjas among them. They were wrong. Joe, the American Ninja, fights the ninja henchment, bangs the Colonel's daughter, and then fights the master ninja, who shoots lasers out of his arms. Then he makes like 8 sequels, which were horrible.

Martial Arts Weapons:

History:

Most karate weapons were improvised farm weapons because the samurai wouldn't let the peasant farmers train with real weapons. Here are a few examples.

Nunchucks:

In retrospect, letting Okinawan farmers harvest rice with Nunchuks turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes ever made. Not only do they appear to be a pretty retarded harvesting tool, but they kick serious ass. They consist of two small staves connected by a small piece of rope or chain. They are whipped around to create great force.

Follow one boy's journey through the years as he progresses in nunchuk skill (and diabetes):

Sai:

Katana: The samurai weapon of choice. Extremely sharp and slightly curved.

Bo Staff: A large stick used to swing around and hit people.

Shuriken: Ninjas hid these all over inside their costumes.

Escrima Sticks: A half-sized staff used to mess people up.

Martial Arts Myths

1. Ninjas Can Run Up Walls and Fly:

The problem with ninja myths are that the only thing we know about ninjas is what the ninjas have allowed us to know.

Here are some modern non-ninjas who can do such feats:

2. Ninjas Can Turn Invisible: This is not a myth. They actually can turn invisible

3. Ninja Mind Reading:

4. Dim Mak:

The Wonderful English Language

Here's a great observation from Frank Skinner, the comedian. He said that allowing presenters such as Gordon Ramsay (recently criticised by Ofcom for using the "Fuck" word 115 times in 40 minutes), to swear so often made things worse.

“Language has been wasted on Gordon Ramsay instead of comedians who know how to use it. It gives [the tabloid press] the ammunition to say, ‘Get fuck off telly’. Actually fuck is a beautiful word when used correctly.”

Agreed- he makes a great point. Ramsay's tired and one dimensional gimmick is to swear profusely (and usually at wholly unnecessary times), but not in any clever or profound way. He just highlights his incredible lack of vocabulary and his misguided aim to be trendy and 21st century hip. He's so far from his objective the bus would run out of diesel before even getting half way there.

But more poignantly, why should we have censorship of words that covey no hate, incitement or bigotry? Just because a faceless "someone" decides it is maybe offensive? Who are they to judge what is and what isn't?

They are the people who should all fuck off...

Nightmare Drive Home

Not for us as we don't drive anymore, but for my bruv and his family after their summer holiday on the coast.

They set out at 10:30 on Friday but got caught up in a traffic jam due to some inconsiderate bastard wanting to headbutt the pavement from a great height. He had also decided his one off show should be witnessed by the masses and chose a bridge that jammed up the three lane motorway solid for hours.

Apparently Plod were contacted but ended up MIA and when they did finally arrive, they were as helpful as a post office employee married to a taxi driver, but did all they could. Which amounted to nothing but making people queue.

My brother, wife and three young kids finally entered the door of his house at gone midnight on Saturday, the next day. Yes, they were trapped in their car for nearly fourteen hours.

Calling Home

With the aid of the utterly brilliant Skype VOIP system, we usually call back to the UK to speak to our parents and see how things are. Yesterday, my father asked me if I was aware that it will soon be coming up to us being away for three and a half years and suggested that I should write about our escapades as "that is some achievement".

Yes, dad. Perhaps you can visit the Blog a little more and see that I do make a habit of recording our adventures from time to time. :o) Of course, there is a load of "other" stuff clogging up the diary, but all of our stories are contained herein.

He also suggested it would be interesting to calculate exactly how much an average year on the road has actually cost us, so that others may gauge the finances required to live our lives. Aside from our knowing exactly how much we have spent since we left the UK (I keep an anal spreadsheet detailing all expenditure, which is updated almost daily), that simply won't work.

We have a budget that is fixed by our income from the sale of our home in the UK and another property that we let out. It brings us a set amount that fluctuates on a weekly basis due to the exchange rates but also annually when interest rates are altered. Whatever our monthly take home is, we simply divide that by four to give us a weekly amount and we then seek accommodation to suit and whatever is left becomes our daily spending money.

Clearly, we will adjust our lifestyles to suit whatever we have; the more dosh in your back bin, the more fun you have and that can be from a flash pad to having more spends on the luxuries in life. Ditto, I am certain we could continue our road trip on less, as we'll just downgrade. Begrudgingly.

So far, it's not been a huge problem. We had less in the first year as we hadn't sold our home. We had more last year once we had and the interest rates were high. This year it's not so much as the rates have dropped, but we are still better off than year one. We've saved a bit to pay for additional items and we have an emergency fund, but we've also done some extravagant things, which one needs from time to time.

As we have repeatedly said, this kind of lifestyle is not for the masses as it is not a standard 2.4 kids, mortgage, 9-5 job and a saloon car. However, it can be done by anyone with a bit of cash and a sense of wanting to live a little more recklessly. The rewards are huge, the memories life-long and the fun is immense. The only real challenge for most is time.

But isn't that what everyone has when they retire?

Friend or Foe?

The US government can infer the identity of 96.1% of its citizens given only a date of birth, a gender, and their current zip code.

It's probably the same for the UK but there they will also have hours of surveillance tapes to hand- just to be sure. Unless you're a crim and then the tape turns to mush...

Hearty Congrats to England

This is not something you often hear- England beat Germany in a final! From the BBC:

Ashley Jackson scored twice as England's men claimed their first ever EuroHockey Nations title, beating world and Olympic champions Germany 5-3.

Jackson opened the scoring before Christian Zeller equalised, only for captain Barry Middleton's fine shot from an angle to make it 2-1.

Zeller made it 2-2 before setting up Jan-Marco Montag to put Germany 3-2 up.

Richard Mantell scored twice in quick succession in the second half before Jackson's penalty sealed a famous win.

The teams had drawn 4-4 in the group stage, after England had led 4-2, and an increasingly desperate German side did its best to try and pull off another dramatic comeback.

But for all their efforts, the England backline stood firm and they held on for a well-deserved victory.

England's only previous appearance in the final came in 1987, when a team including the likes of Sean Kerly lost on penalty strokes to the Netherlands.

England's women had already won the bronze medal in their championship after beating Spain 2-1 on Saturday.

1966 and all that. An outstanding victory and thoroughly deserved. Perhaps a sign of good things to come? Let's hope so.


All Good Things

Come to an end, is an oft repeated saying and it can't be any truer than Tottenham's reign at the summit of the Premiership. Our two matches after the England qualifier next weekend?

Away to Man Utd, followed by a home draw against Chelsea- both without our midfield play-maker, Modric. Oh well...

Back in a National Shirt

Good to hear that Spurs' fine (fluke) form is paying dividends for some of the team. England coach Fabio Capello has recalled Spurs pair Peter Crouch and Aaron Lennon for the Slovenia friendly and World Cup qualifier versus Croatia.

Well pleased for them both but especially for Lennon whom I have always rated. He is now playing better than ever and let's hope his good form continues until next summer. :o)

England play Slovenia at Wembley at 17:30 on Saturday, 5th September ahead of the key qualifier against Hrvatska at the same venue at 20:00 on Wednesday, 9th September.
A win for Team Eng-er-land against Croatia will confirm their presence at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and I expect them to achieve it.

Not such good news for Luka Modric though. Spurs will be without him for at least six weeks after the midfielder fractured a bone in his leg during the 2-1 win over Birmingham on Saturday. The Croatian international was forced to withdraw from the match at White Hart Lane just after half-time and will also miss the England game.

Results and Standings

Indianapolis MotoGP result:

1 J Lorenzo (Sp) Fiat Yamaha 47'13.592
2 A de Angelis (RSM) Gresini Honda 47'23.027
3 N Hayden (USA) Ducati 47'26.539
4 A Dovizioso (Ita) Repsol Honda 47'27.070
5 C Edwards (USA) Tech 3 Yamaha 47'39.846

6 J Toseland (GB) Tech 3 Yamaha 47'46.000

7 L Capirossi (Ita) Rizla Suzuki 47'47.992
8 M Kallio (Fin) Ducati 47'48.448
9 T Elias (Sp) Gresini Honda 47'58.597
10 D Pedrosa (Spn) Repsol Honda 47'58.597
11 C Vermeulen (Aus) Rizla Suzuki 47'59.070
12 R de Puniet (Fr) LCR Honda 48'05.886
13 A Espargaro (Sp) Pramac Racing 48'17.144
14 G Talmacsi (Hng) Scot Racing 48'28.678

Championship standings:

1 V Rossi 212
2 J Lorenzo 187
3 C Stoner 150
4 D Pedrosa 141
5 C Edwards 123
6 A Dovizioso 120
7 A de Angelis 88
8 L Capirossi 86
9 R de Puniet 84
10 M Meldandri 79
11 C Vermeulen 77
12 N Hayden 73
13 J Toseland 72

American MotoGP

Spain's Jorge Lorenzo won the Indianapolis MotoGP to cut Valentino Rossi's championship lead to 25 points as the world champion failed to finish. Dani Pedrosa set the early pace before skidding off on lap four, leaving Rossi and Lorenzo to battle for the lead.

Two laps later Lorenzo had gone ahead when the Italian skidded off and out. Lorenzo, who failed to finish in the last two races, came home nine seconds ahead of Alex de Angelis in second with home favourite Nicky Hayden in third.

Pedrosa did superbly to come back and finish in 10th place, and Britain's James Toseland boosted his chance of earning a new contract with the Tech 3 Yamaha team by equalling his career-best sixth place finish.

With now just five races remaining, can Rossi keep his team mate at bay and win another championship, or is it going to go the other way? Tense stuff.

Nice Line

I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life.

- George Burns

5 GOLD Rings...♫ ♪ ♫

Every year the US Department of the Treasury estimates the value of the items mentioned in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as a festive means of gauging inflation. This year, the gifts would set the true love back $36 022.

I have no idea why I posted this up today as it is nowhere near Christmas (unless you're in Leeds and have already bought your cards) and it doesn't even say which year it was for. Still, I figured it was a quirky factual and enjoyed it.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Slippery Slope

Chinese workers have covered a giant steel bridge with butter because officials are fed up with traffic jams caused by people who slow down to watch suicide victims leaping to their death.

Government officials in Guangzhou in south east China ordered workers to smear butter on all of the climbable surfaces of the 1 000 foot long steel bridge. A spokesbod said:

"We tried employing guards at both ends but that didn't work - and we put up special fences and notices asking people not to commit suicide here. None of it worked - and so now we have put butter over the bridge and it has worked very well. Nobody can get up there and anybody who tries either falls"

In one month alone eight people committed suicide on the bridge and numerous others had climbed up threatening to commit suicide before changing their minds. A bridge guard said:

"Each time somebody threatens to commit suicide to get media attention or sympathy over personal problems we end up with several hours of tailbacks and there were lots of complaints. Since we put up the butter there have been no problems with these attention seekers."

I seem to recall posting up on this before about a chap who was so incensed by yet another would be jumper causing delays with his dallying, that he pushed the suicide bidder off. It was of particular interest to us as we had just been to Guangzhou. :o)

2nd Bag, New Cost

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are to charge passengers for carrying extra luggage, with BA economy passengers facing paying £40 for a second bag from October 2009. Virgin will charge economy passengers £35.

Thin end of the wedge. Avoid them and use alternatives if you can.

The Art of Diplomacy

The American government is refusing to pay a £50 million tax bill on the construction of its proposed new embassy in London. It is fighting Treasury demands that it pays VAT on the construction of a £275 million building known as The Iceberg, which it hopes to open in Nine Elms, Battersea, by 2016.

The US wants to move its embassy from Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, to increase security. The new building, to be built near New Covent Garden Market, would be protected by a 30-metre “blast zone”.

In the past eight years America has escaped paying tax on 68 diplomatic properties it has built around the world. The US government has also refused to pay the congestion charge since its introduction in 2003, claiming diplomatic immunity from taxes. At the start of last month it had 30 979 unpaid tickets, running up a debt with Transport for London of almost £3.6 million.

I wonder how our dithering Government is going to handle this one? :o)

Why?

More money is spent on petroleum jelly in the United States than the world's 25 lowest GDPs combined.

Sorted

Unbeknown to me, there is an option to prevent comments from being left on any post I choose. I was aware of it, but wasn't sure if it would disable all future comments, so after a quick test, it seems to be fine and the Japanese spambots can now go and poke their Viagra. :o)

Cheers to TooManyBlogs for the tip.

Want One

If current trends continue, a hard disk big enough to hold every web page on the internet today will cost less than $200 in 10 years.

That's a Bugger

I'm trying to delete the post, but I can't get back far enough as my edit page only goes back to 2008 and the infected post is in March 2006. Hhmm, time to hit the Blog forum for some ideas, so bear with me.

Spring Clean

It's OK, you're not going backwards in time. :o)

The previous post is just an old one re-copied so that I can delete the original and hopefully deal with some spambots that seem to be leaving a new message every day. By scrubbing it, hopefully it will solve the problem, which initially was quite amusing as the comments were in Japanese.

But as with anything, it gets tiresome quite quickly, even if it's an ad for Viagra in Japanese characters...

Our Ex Rides Back in the UK






Click any to Enlarge

Those were the days. *sigh*

All of our bikes were ridden at least once a week all year around- yes, even the butt-ugly autospastic scoot.

Selling them still rates as the biggest regret I have. The only one, I hasten to add and if you consider the lifestyle we now have, it was hardly a sacrifice. :o)

I Enjoyed This- How True

Everything I Know about Computers
I Learned in the Movies

Word processors never display a cursor.

It is unnecessary to use the spacebar when typing long sentences.

No one ever makes typing errors.

All monitors display 2-inch-high letters.

The high-tech computers used by NASA, the CIA, or other governmental agencies, have easy-to-understand graphic interfaces. Those without have incredibly powerful, text-based command lines that understand plain English. Corollary: Anyone can access any information by simply typing "Access all secret files" on any keyboard.

You can infect a computer with a destructive virus by simply typing "Upload virus." Just as they do in humans, viruses raise a computer's temperature. Soon smoke will billow out of disk drives and monitors.

All computers are connected.

You can access information on any desktop computer, even when it's turned off.

Powerful computers beep whenever you press a key or whenever the screen changes. Some computers also slow down the screen output to reading speed. Really advanced ones emulate the sound of a dot-matrix printer as characters appear on-screen.

All computer panels have thousands of volts and flash pots just beneath their surface. Malfunctions are always indicated by bright flashes, puffs of smoke, showers of sparks, and explosions that throws people backwards.

After typing on a computer, you may safely turn it off without saving the data, naming the file, or specifying its location.

Hackers can easily break into the most sensitive computers before intermission. They only need a few tries to guess secret passwords.

Any "Permission Denied" message has an "Override" function.

Computers take approximately two seconds to boot up.

Complex calculations and uploading or downloading huge amounts of data take about three seconds. Movie modems transmit data at about two gigabytes per second.

When the power plant/missile site/main computer overheats, all the control panels explode shortly before the entire building does.

If you display a file on the screen and someone deletes the file, it also disappears from the screen. There are no backup files. There is no undelete.

All computers interface with all other computers regardless of manufacturer or galaxy of origin.

All computer disks are readable by all computer systems.

All computers can use any application software.

You are asked for a password when you just look at a disk containing encrypted files.

The more high-tech the equipment, the more buttons it needs.

Operators of high-tech computers must be highly trained because the only labeled button reads, "Self Destruct."

Most computers, no matter how small, have reality-defying, three-dimensional, real-time, photo-realistic, animated graphics capability.

Laptops all have real-time videophone capabilities and the performance of a CRAY-MP.

Whenever characters look at monitors, the image is so bright that it projects itself onto their face.

Computers never crash during important, high-intensity activities. Humans operating computers under stress never make mistakes.

Programs are fiendishly perfect and never have bugs that slow down users.

Internet searches always return what you seek no matter how vague your keywords.

All photographs can be enhanced simply by pulling minute details out of the grain. You can zoom into any picture as far as you want. "What's that fuzzy thing in the corner? Enhance." "Look! It's the murder weapon!"

Time's All Time Top 100 Filums

It's Only the Movies

Watch and Learn- how to make a box office smash hit:

  1. Summer at the Movies
  2. 1. Skip the Stars
  3. 2. Get Animated
  4. 3. Spend Money to Make Money
  5. 4. Ignore the Grownups
  6. 5. But Don't Forget the Women
  7. 6. Out-Apatow Judd Apatow
  8. 7. Send a Get-Well Card to Indies
  9. 8. Send in the Dinosaurs
  10. 9. Make Sequels and Prequels
  11. 10. Wow the Fans on Friday

Milking the Golden Goose

Where's Stig? features "jam packed", cartoonish recreations of famous scenes from the hit television show Top Gear, with the mysterious driver in white hidden somewhere on each page, just like Where's Waldo?

The publication goes on sale from BBC Books as of 17th September 2009, for all TG fans.

I think I'll give that one a miss, thanks.

Classic Sc-Fi

Ten sci-fi movies that should never, under any circumstance, be remade. They’re called “classics” for a reason.

Note: The list does not include films have have already been remade, are in the process of being remade, sequels or films part of a trilogy.

10: Minority Report (2002, IMDB link)

Based on a Philip K. Dick short story (like many other memorable sci-fi films), the movie isn’t the usual mindless action movie, in Minority Report, clever plot twists and intelligent storytelling constantly keep the audience on its toes — one of Spielberg’s trademarks. The bleached, over exposed look of the film (bleach bypass) contributed to the portrayal of a futuristic society dominated by technology in every aspect of life, and while the film has several differences to the Philip K. Dick story, the main themes — predicting the future and the existence of free will — are still explored to their fullest potentials.

9: Close Encounters of The Third Kind (1977, IMDB link)

Almost 25 years before he made Minority Report, Spielberg made Close Encounters of The Third Kind, one of the most compelling stories involving UFOs and extra terrestrials. It was Spielberg’s first science fiction movie, and also one of his best and most critically acclaimed (and was nominated for 9 Oscars). The movie received a special edition released in 1980 with a few minutes of extra footage, and once again with another special edition on DVD and video in 1998.

8: A Clockwork Orange (1971, IMDB link)

Stanley Kubrick’s adaption of the 1962 novel by Anthony Burgess kept many of the thought provoking aspects of a dystopian society where youth gangs ruled, where violence and rape were the everyday norm. Kubrick added his own touches — like using classical music as a part of the story — and was relentless in portraying the violence and psychological disorder, and the film has ever since had a reputation as one of the most violent ever made.

7: Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004, IMDB link)

One of the most original stories to hit the screens this decade, Charlie Kaufman’s The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind centered around a dysfunctional couple who chose to erase each other from their respective memories — only to meet at the beginning of the movie and fall in love. The key here is not great sci-fi visions or action spectacles (there’s virtually none of that in the movie), but rather, the intelligent and surreal script by Kaufman, who manged to piece everything together in such a complex story.

6: ET: The Extra Terrestrial (1982, IMDB link)

A movie forever present in millions of people’s childhood memories, the story about an alien who gets stranded on Earth and is helped by a group of kids, whom eventually become friends with the alien. The story was based on Spielberg’s own memories as a kid, and ET was based on an imaginary friend he created when his parents split. The movie features some of the most iconic images in cinema, not to mention young Henry Thomas’ stellar performance as the boy who befriends ET.

5: Gattaca (1997, IMDB link)

Usually science fiction films have elements of action and great visual effects, but Gattaca wasn’t one of them. Instead, it’s one of the finest examples of a “thinking man’s sci-fi movie”. Set in the not too distant future where genetics determine one’s ability in life, it centers around a man who’s got a life span of only 31 years, and who’s wish to travel to outer space is permanently blocked due to his bad genes. It introduces a society where genes are not as means of eradicating deceases, but as way of classifying a human being from the day they’re born, in other words; genetic racism.

4: Dark City (1998, IMDB link)

Dark City, Alex Proya’s best film to date, the one that loosely inspired The Matrix and countless other films through its visual style and narrative, tells the tale of a society run by beings with telekinetic powers who control the world, unbeknownst to the people. The original story and plot, coupled with its futuristic film noir look has made Dark City a cult classic, and while it was initially overlooked by many, famous film critic Roger Ebert called it the best film of 1998. Many would strongly agree.

3: Stalker (1979, IMDB link)

One of the most visually stunning and philosophical sci-fi movies of all times, Tarkovsky’s Stalker, centers around a guide, also known as a “Stalker”, who takes two men into “The Zone”; a place surrounded by the military where aliens landed, and where, as rumor goes, anything you wish can be granted. It’s a slow movie with a lots of long takes, but takes that show great detail to the visual part of the film, making it one of the most visually striking sci-fi films ever — despite no use of visual effects of any kind.

2: Blade Runner (1982, IMDB link)

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner has been synonymous with sci-fi noir ever since it was released, and remains one of the finest and most atmospheric science fiction movies ever made. Based on a Philip K. Dick novel, the story of Deckard, a bounty hunter who has to hunt down 4 replicants in a dark, gritty Los Angeles set in 2019. It was a box office failure, but has since been recognized as one of the finest neo-noir sci-fi films of all time. It’s striking visuals and elements of cyberpunk have ever since not only inspired other movies, but books, video games and graphic novels as well.

1: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, IMDB link)

Stanly Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey, based on the book by Arthur C. Clarke, is widely considered one of the greatest science fiction films of all time. Its visuals and effects hold up even to this day, where CGI has long since taken over. Kubrick spent 4 years making the film, painstakingly taking care of every little detail. Unlike the book however, Kubrick deliberately removed certain aspects of the story in order to make the film more open to interpretation, which has only served as a mean of immortalizing it — move fans to this day are arguing and counter-arguing what exactly Kubrick meant with the film, and it’s one of the most studied by film historians and film schools alike.

From Screenhead.


Films that would have been considered for the list but are already being remade: Akira, Metropolis, Tron, Fahrenheit 451, Dune, Total Recall, The Thing, The Fly, The Illustrated Man and Logan’s Run.

Nicked

It is estimated that only 32% of insurance fraud attempts go unnoticed.

I know a couple of busted Brit burds in Brazil who are fully aware of this now...

Bloody Brilliant


Click to Enlarge

'Nuff said. :o)

Leading From the Front

Majorities now express a "very" or "somewhat" favourable view of the United States in 16 of 24 countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

This represents a shift from recent years, with many of the increases among some of America’s traditional Western allies. Last year, only 42% expressed a positive opinion of the US in France; today, three in four feel this way. Just 31% of Germans held a favourable view last year, compared with 64% now.

Large increases also took place in Spain (+25%) and Britain (+16%) and more than two-thirds (68%) of Canadians have a positive opinion of the US up from 55% in 2007.

See what happens when you kick out the Gibbon and get a decent gadgy in to lead the country? Let's hope we an do the same in the UK next year, although I find Cameron as inspiring as a wet sock drying on a radiator.

Standing Room Only

Just in time for our visit next year?

Standing-only bars prove hit amid recession

Tachinomi (standing-only bars) are mushrooming in central Tokyo and attracting customers keen to enjoy reasonably priced food and drinks.

Among the most popular is motsuyaki (roast giblets) bar Ishii, near Shinjuku Sanchome Station in Tokyo.

When I visited the bar--whose slogan is "Nihon saisei sakaba," which literally means "a bar that will revitalize Japan"--the floor was packed with customers drinking at the counter or around metal barrels placed around the room and used as tables. Some patrons were eating motsuyaki while others were drinking beer.

About half of the guests were fairly young.

Space is at a premium in the narrow establishment and many customers simply lean against the bar while enjoying their drinks. This manner of drinking is dubbed the "Dark style," after the Dark Ducks, a popular male chorus group that stood side-on to the audience while performing.

"Drinking this way makes optimal use of the available space and allows as many people as possible to enter a small bar," said essayist Rui Yoshida, 60, who in April released a guidebook to Tokyo's tachinomi bars called "Tokyo Tachinomi Annai" (published by Media Research Inc.).

According to Yoshida, the current boom can be traced back to 2004, when the number of tachinomi bars in Tokyo had increased to about 600, compared with about 150 that existed in the 1990s.

Many tachinomi bars have opened in the high-rise buildings that recently sprung up around Tokyo Station, including a Nihon Saisei Sakaba franchise branch that opened in 2007 in the Shin-Marunouchi Building.

This branch opened at the request of Mitsubishi Estate Co., which manages the building. "We thought people would like the bar's unique layout, which differs from those of normal restaurants usually found in such buildings," a Mitsubishi Estate official said.

However, the primary reason for the popularity of tachinomi bars is likely their reasonable prices.

For example, such bars serve kushiyaki (grilled meat or vegetables on skewers) for about 100 yen per item, with motsunikomi giblet stew costing about 150 yen.

"There's a higher turnover of customers at tachinomi bars compared with other types of bars," one Tokyo bar manager said. "We keep our prices down based on a low-margin high-turnover policy."

Another reason for the popularity of such bars is their relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

Tamaki Maruyama, 33, a company employee in Yokohama, often visits a tachinomi bar near Tokyo Station. "I can drop in casually, even if I'm just having a glass of beer," she said.

Many tachinomi bars also serve up international cuisine. One such establishment is Provencale, which opened in 2005 in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku, Tokyo. The bar's specialty is home-style French food, served up by manager Masayuki Sato, 40, who worked as a cook in Paris and other cities.

Like other tachinomi bars, Provencale features reasonably priced food and drinks--including a glass of wine for 390 yen and a plate of cold ham for 300 yen.

Sato says the bar's clientele has changed since the recession hit last autumn.

"We attract customers who used to go to normal restaurants, but who now want to enjoy wining and dining without breaking the bank," Sato said.

However, Fumihiro Oshima, a 47-year-old company employee in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, who occasionally visits tachinomi bars with business associates, offers another reason for the popularity of tachinomi bars. "Due to the small bar space and the proximity of the customers, it's easy to strike up conversations with complete strangers," he said.