Sunday, 31 July 2011

Loony Tunes

As they say, "that's all (for now) folks".  See you in Deutschland at some point.

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Not Good Enough

Tax chiefs have apologised to customers for poor performance and huge delays following a damning report by MPs.

Mike Clasper, chairman of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), said sorry to taxpayers after the Commons Treasury committee uncovered a raft of problems with the service.  They included phone calls going unanswered at peak times and "endemic" delays in answering letters.  He admitted:

"We are not happy with our performance in 2010.  It simply wasn't good enough on post and telephone and I'd like to take the opportunity to apologise to the people who had to take a long time to get through, or we didn't get back to them quick enough with the post. 

In 2011 we've been working very very hard to improve things. We're handling the calls immediately much more frequently than we did in 2010, and as far as individual customers are concerned you know the post levels have dropped in half.  That's not where we want to be but it's a lot better than where we were in 2010."

I wonder if the tax man will also just as readily accept an apology for late payment?  No, I don't think they will, so why should we?

More at TTel

Too Many Twits...

MPs are spending almost 1,000 hours a year on Twitter, the social networking site, according to research.

The number of MPs tweeting - sending messages of 140 characters or fewer - has more than doubled from 111 in January last year to 275 today, and is expected to go on rising as more politicians sign up.  Keen tweeters include Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and Ed Miliband, the Labour leader.

The Tories have the highest number, but the lowest proportion - of MPs on Twitter - 110 out of 305, or 36%. The Lib Dems, by contrast, have the lowest number but the highest proportion of MPs on the site, with 57% and Labour has 122 out of its 255 members tweeting, 47%.


More at TTel

Getting In First

The first piece of what is now referred to as "junk mail" was sent to J P Morgan by Gimbles Department Store. It was sent in the spring of 1875 and was an announcement of their annual White Sale.

Well, Dur

stupid road signs
stupid road signs 
stupid road signs


stupid road signs

Top Bowling

Congrats to Stuart Broad on his hat-trick against India for England in their second Test at Trent Bridge yesterday.  He joins a rather elite group of men who've managed the same extraordinary feat:

ENGLAND'S 12 TEST HAT-TRICKS

  • Billy Bates v Australia (Melbourne, 1883)
  • Johnny Briggs v Australia (Sydney, 1892)
  • George Lohmann v South Africa (Port Elizabeth, 1896)
  • Jack Hearne v Australia (Headingley, 1899)
  • Maurice Allom v New Zealand (Christchurch, 1930)
  • Tom Goddard v South Africa (Johannesburg, 1938)
  • Peter Loader v West Indies (Headingley, 1957)
  • Dominic Cork v West Indies (Old Trafford, 1995)
  • Darren Gough v Australia (Sydney, 1999)
  • Matthew Hoggard v West Indies (Barbados, 2004)
  • Ryan Sidebottom v New Zealand (Hamilton, 2008)
  • Stuart Broad v India (Trent Bridge, 2011)

WC Factuals for 2014

  • The total of 203 teams vying for one of 31 World Cup spots in Brazil surpasses the 200 who participated four years ago
  • The only associations not to have signed up to compete for 2014 qualification are Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Guam and Mauritania
  • Fifa would not draw Azerbaijan and Armenia together, nor Russia and Georgia, because of political conflicts which they said could lead to fan violence during matches
  • Germany has been the most successful team in the last six World Cup qualifying campaigns, with only two losses in 74 matches

2014 and All That

Only group winners are guaranteed a place at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

2105: The full EUROPEAN ZONE DRAW:

Group A: Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, SCOTLAND, Macedonia, WALES
Group B: Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, Malta.
Group C: Germany, Sweden, R of Ireland, Austria, Faroe Is, K'stan.
Group D: Netherlands, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Andorra.
Group E: Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Albania, Cyprus, Iceland.
Group F: Portugal, Russia, Israel, N IRELAND, Azerbaijan, L'bourg
Group G: Greece, Slovakia, Bosnia-H, Lithuania, Latvia, Lichtenstein
Group H: ENGLAND, Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, S Marino
Group I: Spain, France, Belarus, Georgia, Finland

Quote/Unquote

"I have not failed. I've just found 10 000 ways that won't work."
 
- Thomas A Edison

Here's What You Get








Heads Up

If anyone fancies getting into the skiing business (not forgetting the lucrative summer season too, plus unlimited personal holidays), Helen and Mark have decided to put up their Chalet for sale.  It can sleep up to 26 people, it is fully equipped to cater for all types of breaks, has additional land and a "spare" cottage in the grounds and is truly a remarkable business opportunity.

Prices start at 1.4€ million and you can make your bid by contacting us- we'll pass on your offers.

As We're Here

The average citizen of France checks his or her watch 12 times a day for an average of 5 seconds per glance.

I can't say I've noticed.

Beer-o-meter Update

More through necessity to keep our global wanderings accurate and complete, we ventured into town yesterday to partake in a beer or two.  More through luck than judgement, we ended up coinciding with "happy hour" which lasted from 17:00 to 19:00 (sharp) at the White Monkey Bar.

A pleasant place, with good company ensured we had a fun time but the beer prices are truly scandalous.  Even at reduced rates, a pint of Grolsch came in at an eye-watering £3.63, which takes it straight into third spot in the Abandonship League.

Seriously, 4€ for a pint during happy hour and 5€ (£4.55) for the full price, which makes it even more expensive than Venice.  It's definitely time to go.

Meeting New Friends

The on-site management team, Claire and Paul have also been the most charming of company and we've had great fun chatting to them and being shown around.  Paul is also a biker and has just about finished putting his ZX-9R (Kawasaki) together for the summer season.

Again, the situation of Morzine makes it an ideal place for two wheel fans as the mountains offer superb winding roads through breath taking scenery.  You can be in Switzerland in well under half an hour and Germany and Italy aren't too further afield either.

Lucky get.

But Of Course

Final day, last couple of hours.  54 Mbps and connection strength is "excellent".  The first time all week, just as we get ready to leave.  :o)

Farewell to Morzine

Our first visit to this beautiful little French town and the only way this place could be prettier would be with a layer of snow, which is why it's such a hit with the skiing crowd during the winter season.  It's still popular with non-skiers; the mountain biking crew are filling their boots and everywhere in town you'll find exotic two wheelers sans engines, costing just as much as real motorbikes.

We've also had some luck with the weather the final few days which has also added to our enjoyment of the place, as to has the hospitality of Mark & Helen, who have looked after us in splendour.

Many thanks to all, we've had a super time.

But Heading Off to Where?

So far all of our accommodation enquiries have yielded us nowt.  Everywhere is full.  Of course, it doesn't help that this is now peak holiday season and the Black Forest region is a key vacation destination.  Which means we'll be arriving in Freiburg at around 16:00 with no where to crash and we'll have to take something on spec.

A typical start to the second round of adventures of ktelontour in Germany.

*sigh*

Today is travel day and therefore, as ever, we're up at stupid o'clock without getting much kip the previous night.  We've already packed, our train leaves Geneva at 11:00 and so we have a couple of hours before we need to get going.  Looks like we'll be Blogging a bit before we leave after all.  :o)

Saturday, 30 July 2011

A Deutsche Dongle?

I think that's going to be it for the Blog for a while.

Looking at accommodation options it appears very unlikely that we'll find anywhere with free access to the internet and nor will we have much time to write.  We'll be travelling extensively and exploring new places, so the Blog will be taking a back seat for a few weeks.

We'll do our best and perhaps, like in India, we may be able to purchase a "dongle" to allow us some kind of website connection.

Either way, we'll do our best and hope to see you all soon- and often.

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Second Try

ENGLAND has questioned the ICC's decision to give them small plastic children's bats for the second test on Friday.

Image
When India is batting the pitch will be shortened to 36 inches
After a disgruntled Indian side demanded an explanation as to how they could have been beaten by England, the super-power of world cricket has instructed the ICC to change whatever rules or equipment are currently annoying them.

The second test will see England take to the field with banjos strapped to their feet, while the batsmen will have to wear gloves the size of frying pans and helmets made of meringue.

England coach Andy Flowers said: "We gave one of the tiny bats to Tremlett and he nearly choked on it. Anything he's not familiar with he immediately puts in his mouth."

India have also insisted that their bats be three feet wide and that their bails be nailed to the stumps, at least until tea on Sunday.

ICC executive, Roy Hobbs, said: "Dhoni came into the office and started talking about how this was just like the decades of British oppression under the Raj and how he felt he was being victimised like Dr Aziz in
A Passage to India.

"I just got all flustered and embarrassed and kept saying 'yes' to stuff until he left."

With England 1-0 up in the series against the top-ranked test side, Flowers admits that there is now the real danger of a prolonged period of competence.

He admitted: "There was something rather life affirming about being spectacularly awful.

"But 'not bad' is a description that brings a certain level of tedium to a sport that, if I'm being honest, I actually find incredibly boring anyway."


DMash

Shiny & Pretty

BOUTIQUE computer giant Apple will no longer be selling its machines to the ugly, it has been confirmed.

Image
Be on your way, Mr Merrick
As the company released revamped laptops without the DVD drives, keyboards and screens that had been compromising its machines' flawlessness, it also announced that availability would be restricted to those 'above a 7.5' on its in-house 'would you?' scale.

An Apple spokesman said: "Access to your local Apple store will be determined by a scathing nine-foot transsexual with a clipboard and a Philip Treacy hat customised with neon penises.

"Inside the 'inner sanctums', it will be like a post-fun nightclub with lots of gleaming white surfaces and a muscular DJ in deep v-neck t-shirt playing tasteful minimal house.

"Should you be fortunate enough to gain entry, you will join an 'identity parade' of potential owners to be presented to whichever of our computers deigns to be in stock at the time.

"Our updated machines have user selection software which enables them to decide whether you are attractive enough to own them.

"If it's a 'no' it will send a text to your shitty Android phone giving you directions to the nearest branch of Currys as well as a facial scrub recommendation based on your greasy skin type.

"It will then mock you."

Technology journalist Stephen Malley said: "It seems David Mitchell was not cast as the Personal Computer because he was a stuck-in-the-mud traditionalist, but rather because of his misshapen face.

"PCs don't mind if you're ugly, because they know they're ugly too. And that's what makes it all so wonderfully dirty."


DMash

Fashionless

Idiots throughout the the fashion world have welcomed a new star designer to the catwalk today, in the form of David Beckham.

Wearing a flowing strip of red cloth with a head-hole in the middle, hemmed with sticky-tape and teeth-marks, Beckham proudly showed off his new ‘suit’.

“I’ve been wearing clothes since I was born” said Beckham, “and Victoria has spent the last week showing me how to use a pencil. I don’t think there’s no stopping me from clothes now.”

Beckham’s designs are an honest, breath of fresh air to the boutiques.

His unisex ‘I [heart symbol] fotballs’ underpants are both comfortable and quite well spelled, and his ‘at the end of the day’ pyjamas have sold out.

A new hat, which includes a strip of cloth obscuring the left eye, has been hailed by many as his ‘signature’ design.

“If you can’t see your ‘hat hand’, then you’re still wearing the hat”, explained Beckham. “But ‘if the hat hand’s there, your head is bare’. That’s the jingle that helps you use my hat. And there’s a pen so you can write ‘hat’ on your hand, too.”

Beckham is busy developing other designs, telling reporters, “I’m doing a trouser. It comes on a roll, and you twiddle it round your legs and then rip off the right length.”

“They’re hard to walk in, but there’s no chance of putting them on backwards.”

Beckham is justly proud of his new range, and is considering expanding into footwear.

As he explained, “I can get them on the right feet most of the time, I just need some help with the laces.”
NT

News briefly from DMash

Hurley turning Warne into slightly more effeminate version of Jason Donovan



It would actually be less cruel if she was doing bad stuff to a laboratory chimp, says RSPCA

Happiness survey used to locate and destroy cheerful people

Officials say research data will make it easier to crack down on pointless optimism.

Broom, Broom

Overweight men repeatedly hitting a small ball with a stick is significantly more important than men driving round in circles for two hours, the BBC announced this afternoon.

The announcement that full Formula One coverage will now move to Sky Sports has been greeted by motorsport fans with all the enthusiasm of someone expecting a scaffolding tube enema.

Sports fan Dave Matthews told us, “Multi-millionaires driving really fast round the same corner, over and over again, is the best thing on the BBC.”

“I can’t believe they’re willing to give that up in order to keep Sue Barker and Tim Henman in a job.”

“Let me be clear, if the choice is between me giving up something I dearly love, or giving Rupert Murdoch so much as a single sodding penny, then it’s ‘goodbye thing I love’.”

“And I include my own children in that.”

The BBC defended the decision to cut back on its Formula One coverage by saying “Martin Brundle” over and over again.

A spokesperson for the corporation told us, “We consider that big game in the fields with all the men from around the world using really expensive sticks to hit the ball into the hole as being among the ‘crown jewels’ of our sports coverage.”

“And of course, by ‘crown jewels’ I mean that you wouldn’t want to be kicked in the ‘crown jewels’.”

Formula One impresario Bernie Ecclestone defended the new deal, telling fans, “You can all rest assured that this new deal has been negotiated in the best interests of Bernie Ecclestone.”

“Also, are people really complaining that they think adverts will ruin the thing that is covered top to tail in adverts?”

“People are funny, aren’t they?”

NT

Dilbert

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

Gong Up

In a typical high-rise office, the lifts consume nearly half of the electricity used by the building as a whole.

Hard At It

Belly dancing, Doctor Who and the Roman Empire are just some of the interests of civil servants as revealed by their web browsing habits.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has disclosed the 1,000 sites visited most often by staff while at work.

The BBC website came top, but employees are also spending time apparently shopping, gambling and house-hunting.

A DfT spokesman said personal internet use by staff should be restricted to official breaks.

The details were published in response to a Freedom of Information request by campaign group the TaxPayers' Alliance. They cover the period from January to May this year. 'Leave reality behind'

Many of the websites come as no surprise - Google is close to the top along with a number of newspapers and news blogs. The BBC homepage is number one with 7.4 million hits.

Facebook comes in at 85th, with more than 130,000 hits. Argos is the most regular online shopping destination, but John Lewis, Next and Debenhams feature too.

Plenty of sports fans appear to have been sneaking in a cheeky look or two at scores or fixtures - with goonerweb, chelseaafc and espncricinfo - a cricket stats website - all popular.


Some may also be having a flutter - hence the popularity of oddschecker and bet365 - which get 25,808 and 7,328 hits respectively.

But there are a number of unusual sites which reveal some more unexpected pastimes among civil servants.

Coming in at number 385 - with 27,634 hits - is bearsfaction.org.uk - a website run by the Lorien Trust which organises fantasy role-play festivals.

It invites users to "leave reality behind" and "walk amongst goblins, elves and dwarves".

Even more popular, coming in at 115, is etiquettehell.com which gives frustrated sticklers for good manners a forum in which to vent.

Smallworldbellydance.com - a south London belly dancing studio - gets 3,170 hits, while a website for fans of the Roman Empire attracted nearly 100,000.

Some civil servants also seem to be interested in matters of glamour within Whitehall itself.

Sexymp.co.uk - where users get to rank Members of Parliament in order of attractiveness - got 21,477 hits in the five-month period, making it the 465th most popular site. Meal breaks

The TaxPayers' Alliance said it had contacted all government departments, but the DfT was the only one to provide the information.

Director Matthew Sinclair said: "While many staff work very hard, there have been enough anecdotal reports of time-wasters within the civil service that it is vital taxpayers are able to scrutinise how time they are paying for is spent.

"Other departments need to follow suit and publish this information. There is no practical obstacle to proper transparency."

The DfT was asked whether it could reveal the amount of time spent on each website, but it said it did not keep accurate figures.

A spokesman said: "Our internet access policy states that personal use of the internet by staff should be kept as short as possible and should not in any event exceed one hour each day made in their own time, e.g. meal breaks.

"We also have measures in place to prevent the inappropriate use of internet by staff, for example in relation to pornographic web sites.

"Personal use should not place excessive demands on ICT [information and communications technology] facilities and should not detract from staff's performance of their duties."

The DfT said two staff had been disciplined during 2009-10 due to "inappropriate internet usage".

BBC

Wow

Apple now has more cash to spend than the United States government.

Latest figures from the US Treasury Department show that the country has an operating cash balance of $73.7bn (£45.3bn).  Apple's most recent financial results put its reserves at $76.4bn.

More at the BBC.

Q & A in the USA on Debts

The White House and Congress are fighting over how to raise the debt ceiling.  With the deadline for reaching a deal fast approaching, the fear is that the US will run out of money.  The BBC asks the questions:

What is the debt ceiling?
The US government faces a legal limit on the total amount of debts it can run up in order to pay its bills - including military salaries, interest on existing loans, and Medicare. The current limit is $14.3 trillion (£8.9tn).
The cap was reached in May. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was able to extend the expected day of reckoning to 2 August, by various tricks such as postponing payments into government pension schemes, and thanks to better-than-expected tax revenues.
Republicans, and some analysts, say that even after 2 August, the government has some leeway to continue meeting payments at least for a few more days.

Why can't the Obama administration borrow more?
Because it is not in Mr Obama's power. The debt ceiling is set by statute and can only be raised by Congress.
An overall borrowing cap was first introduced by Congress in 1917 to make it simpler for the government to finance its efforts in World War I.
Since then the ceiling has been raised dozens of times, and it is usually a formality.
Perversely, Congress also sets the government's spending commitments and tax-raising powers.
This puts the Obama administration in the impossible position of being required to spend more than it earns, while also being prevented from borrowing the difference.

What is the problem this time round?
The financial crisis and the US's fragile economic condition have caused government spending to soar, while tax revenues have suffered.
This has caused a big rise in the government's deficit - its rate of borrowing.
The Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, say they want to bring the deficit back under control, and have threatened not to raise the debt ceiling unless a deal is reached.

How far apart are the two sides?
Both sides accept that cutting the deficit is vital. In recent weeks several plans have been floated by one side or another and been batted down.
The most recent proposals include:
  • A plan from Senate Democrats would raise the debt ceiling by $2.7tn and cut the budget deficit by $2.2bn. It would protect social programmes for the elderly and the poor that are dear to Democrats. In a concession to Republican demands, this plan would not raise new tax revenue.
  • A two-step plan pushed by the House Republican leadership - and passed in the House despite initial reluctance from conservatives - that would trim government spending by $915bn, including cuts to those programmes, but would only extend the government's borrowing authority for about six months.
The chief sticking points have been Republicans' resistance to tax rises and calls for much bigger spending cuts than the Democrats favour, and Democrats' desire to shield healthcare programmes for the poor and elderly and the Social Security pension programme from cuts.
Finally, a number of House Republicans - mainly newly elected staunch Tea Party fiscal conservatives - oppose raising the debt limit in any form.

What happens if no deal is reached by 2 August?
The US could be in default, something Tim Geithner has said would be "catastrophic", and President Obama has warned could tip America back into recession.
Economists say President Obama's options could include:
  1. Stopping payments across the board, including debt repayments. This would be a disastrous outcome for financial markets.
  2. Prioritising some payments (particularly interest payments), at least until money completely runs out. Some $23bn of social security payments due on 3 August could in theory be delayed. But these payments are computer-automated and may be technically impossible to stop. Moreover, stopping them would hurt core Democrat voters. And it is not even clear the government has the legal right to prioritise payments like this anyway.
  3. Ignoring the debt ceiling and continuing borrowing. Some have argued that the US constitution gives the president authority to do this. It would certainly spark a constitutional crisis, and possibly impeachment proceedings.

What do academics believe will happen if the US defaults?
Interest rates on credit cards, car loans and home mortgages could rise sharply, says George Washington University Professor Julius Hobson.
He adds that global financial institutions around the world holding AAA-rated US Treasury notes and bonds would see the value drop.
Harvard University Economics Professor Jeffrey Miron says foreign creditors could start withdrawing money from US banks.
He also says cheques could be delayed to social security beneficiaries.

Surely the US would not default on its debts?
So far that has been everyone's assumption.
The US has not seen any significant increase in its borrowing cost, in the way that Greece and other indebted eurozone governments have.
The rating agencies are somewhat less relaxed. On 15 July, Standard & Poor's warned it could cut the US's coveted AAA credit rating if no deal is done, which could limit some investors' ability to lend to the US government.
Moreover, some analysts point out that a surprisingly large amount of existing debt comes up for repayment in 2011 - some $1.7tn, or 12% of its total debt.
They fear that investors could panic and refuse to relend the money, forcing a default.

Is there a compromise to be agreed?

Republicans have proposed raising the debt ceiling by enough to fund the government for another six to eight months, to allow more time for negotiations.
Mr Obama opposes this extension, which would set the new deadline in the run-up to the 2012 presidential elections.
Other Democrats have backed a longer extension, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has floated a proposal to give Mr Obama unilateral authority to raise the debt ceiling while giving Congress an opportunity to register its disapproval.
It could be brinkmanship, but both parties agree that talks on a new ceiling cannot go on indefinitely.

Graphic

Klinsmann For USA



Former Germany boss Jurgen Klinsmann has been named as the new head coach of the United States national team.

Klinsmann mostly lives in the US and replaces Bob Bradley, who was sacked on Thursday after four and a half years in charge.

"I am proud and honoured to be named the head coach. I'm excited about the challenge ahead," said the German.

The 46-year-old will take charge of the US for the first time against Mexico on 10 August.
As a player, Klinsmann won the 1990 World Cup and 1996 European Championships with West Germany and Germany respectively.

Following his retirement in 1998, Klinsmann took charge of the German national side in 2004 and led them to third place at the 2006 World Cup.

He later had a brief spell with Bayern Munich, taking them to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

"He is a highly accomplished player and coach with the experience and knowledge to advance the program," said US Soccer president Sunil Gulati.

"Jurgen has had success in many different areas of the game and we look forward to the leadership he will provide on and off the field."

Klinsmann will be introduced at a press conference in New York on Monday.

BBC

FA Reform?

The Football Association has been urged by MPs to make big changes in the way the game is run in England.  A report by MPs stresses the need to address the financial instability and the levels of debt in football.  John Whittingdale MP said:

"Significant changes need to be made to the way the game is run to secure the future of England's football heritage.  No one doubts the success of the Premier League in revitalising English football.  But it has been accompanied by serious financial problems throughout the football league pyramid."

I don't agree that MPs should interfere in sport, particularly when they can't even get their own house in order.  Besides, how many reports similar to this have we seen over the years without making the slightest difference.  The BBC puts it well:

"The Culture, Media and Sport Committee's report on Football Governance is 112 pages of good sense and honorable intentions. Those eight evidence-gathering sessions, hundreds of written submissions and trips to see what German football looks like were not wasted. Sadly, we have been here before: many, many times. Government interventions into English football have been as regular and pointless as England's failures in summer tournaments. MPs get bored, ministers move on, governments change, football stays the same. Will this time be any different?"

Quote/Unquote

"There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking."
 
- Alfred Korzybski

Lazt Posting

Not referring to my usual "cut and paste", I can barely be bothered style, but to the speed at which we're getting through this.  We're back to dial up rates and it's taking forever to upload.  That's a pain as we have plenty to do today and can't afford to waste any time.

Hollywood Credibility

 We've all seen the big, brash 110% hyped up action scenes in the latest blockbuster and then thought, "that's nonsense, no one could survive that or get up from that kicking".

Solution?

Make all the actors and actresses do their own stunts and fights scenes.  That'll keep it real, as they say...

Top of the Cops- 40

Marion

Marion "Cobra" Cobretti (Cobra)

Best moment: "You're the disease, and I'm the cure." The best medicine is Cobra venom.
At the precinct: Don't make fun of him for having a girl's name.
Did you know?: The film was not critically-acclaimed, to put it mildly. The New York Times stated: "this film shows such contempt for the most basic American values embodied in the concept of a fair trial that Mr. Stallone no longer, even nominally, represents an ideology that is recognizably American." Take that Sly.

Top of the Cops- 39

Ivan Danko (Red Heat)

Ivan Danko (Red Heat)

Best moment: Danko proves he’s fully acclimatised to American ways by gunning down Viktor Rostavili in a Texan Cowboy-esque shoot out.
At the precinct: Don’t ask him anything. He’s fully of the shoot first, ask questions later approach to policing.
Did you know?: It was the first American film allowed to be shot in Moscow’s Red Square.

Top of the Cops- 38

Nikolai Luzhin (Eastern Promises)

Nikolai Luzhin (Eastern Promises)

Best moment: All he wanted was to unwind at the Turkish baths but instead he has to fight off two knife-wielding goons who don’t even have the decency to let him to put some clothes on.
At the precinct: It’s probably best not to bribe him with any spa day vouchers you have lying around. It could bring back some bad memories.
Did you know?: The said bathhouse scene was choreographed with the actors as opposed to stuntmen and took two whole days to shoot.

Top of the Cops- 37

Neville Flynn (Snakes on a Plane)

Neville Flynn (Snakes on a Plane)

Best moment: Quite simply: “Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherf*cking snakes on this motherf*cking plane!”
At the precinct: Board games are always a good way to pass the time, but for everyone’s sake, no snakes and ladders.
Did you know?: Samuel L. Jackson’s agent insisted that his client would only work on the film if the name was changed, but Jackson protested, claiming that the ridiculous title was the only reason he had ever agreed to work on the film.

Top of the Cops- 36

Johnny Utah (Point Break)

Johnny Utah (Point Break)

Best moment: Having fallen so deeply for the manly charms of bank-robbing Patrick Swayze, the undercover cop can only fire his gun into the air, whilst screaming in anguish, when presented with a clear shot at the fleeing criminal.
At the precinct: Share a beer, crack a joke, even wrestle. Any form of male bonding should see you alright. The only worry is if he starts to get the wrong idea.
Did you know?: Keanu Reeves learnt to surf in preparation for the film and continues to surf as a hobby.

Top of the Cops- 35

Danny Butterman (Hot Fuzz)

Danny Butterman (Hot Fuzz)

Best moment: Finally having a Bad Boys/Point Break moment of his own as he blows away crazed fishmongers during a gun fight in the aisles of his local Somerfield.
At the precinct: He’s hardly the sharpest of cops. A Bad Boys box set and a Cornetto from the shop and he’s anyone’s.
Did you know?: Nick Frost and co-star Simon Pegg were often asked for directions by people thinking they were actual cops. Rather than coming clean they played along, claiming that they enjoyed the feeling of power.

Top of the Cops- 34

Chief Wiggum (The Simpsons Movie)

Chief Wiggum (The Simpsons Movie)

Best moment: Demanding that a naked Bart stops skateboarding around Springfield “in the name of American squeamishness.”
At the precinct: One word: donuts.
Did you know?: 12 convenience stores from the 7-Eleven chain changed their name to Kwik-E-Mart for the month approaching the film’s release date, selling Squishees, Buzz Cola and Radioactive Man comics.

Top of the Cops- 33

Keith Frazier (Inside Man)

Keith Frazier (Inside Man)

Best moment: Throwing himself into the lion’s den by entering a hostage situation at a bank. It doesn’t matter that it didn’t work. It was still cool.
At the precinct: All he wants is a promotion. You might not be able to sort that out but at least tell him he’s doing a good job.
Did you know?: The ground scenes in the bank were filmed in an actual bank whereas the underground ones were filmed on a set in Brooklyn.

Top of the Cops- 32

John Anderton (Minority Report)

John Anderton (Minority Report)

Best moment: After being framed for a murder that hasn’t even happened yet, the “PreCrime” captain escapes from a fleet of jetpack wearing cops. Apparently in 2054, pigs can fly.
At the precinct: There’s no use playing him at chess. He’ll know your next move even before you do.
Did you know?: The train scene features cameos from Cruise’s Vanilla Sky co-star Cameron Diaz and director Cameron Crowe, which finished filming just days before Minority Report began.

Top of the Cops- 31

Frank Bullitt (Bullitt)

Frank Bullitt (Bullitt)

Best moment: What else? The whole of the best car chase ever.
At the precinct: Don’t challenge him to a race round a lap of the car park.
Did you know?: One of the Dodge Chargers in the chase crashed into the camera – the damaged front fender can be seen in later scenes.

To Do List

- Pack
- Set alarm
- Washing
- Print off train ticket

Trivs 1990s

Was the game we played last night and once again, we were soundly thrashed.  Don't worry, it wasn't by two ten year olds,   This time they had their daddy on the team and he did the business.  Good fun but that's it for now- I can't stand the humiliation of losing another round.  :o)

Last Day in France

And around this time tomorrow we head back to Switzerland for our transfer to Germany, which is where we first began our adventures.  This time we'll hopefully see a bit more of the country as we can use the entire DB railway network, but looking at some of the B & B prices, we could be in for a tough time.

Thankfully we'll be staying family for a few days to shore up the budget but it's still going to leave a huge hole in our travel fund.  On the plus side, I am already looking forward to my first (of several) currywursts.

Shit Business

I guess if you do this for a living, you've got to have a sense of humour!
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Friday, 29 July 2011

Venice Tax

Visitors staying in five-star hotels in Venice will see 4.50€ (~£4) added to their bill from the 24th August, while those staying in less luxurious accommodation will pay according to a sliding scale of fees as the city edges closer to the long-vaunted idea of an entrance fee.

The council hopes the tax will raise millions of pounds for the urgent maintenance of the city, which is slowly sinking into the mud and is threatened by rising sea levels and more frequent winter storms.

I don't agree in paying to visit a city- tourists already pay inflated prices for food and digs so to add another tax is wrong.  We will go again as it's one of wifey's favourite places and it's very close to Izola, but that will be the last time.

More at TTel

Stay at Home for Sports

easyJet, which this week raised its profit forecast for the year to more than £200 million, has increased the cost of travelling with sporting equipment from £18.50 to £25.
Jet2 has increased its fees by £5, from £20 to £25 for golf clubs and from £25 to £30 for bicycles, Bmibaby has raised its charge for flying with a bicycle from £17.99 to £24.99, and Flybe has increased its fee from £28 to £30.
Ryanair is the only low-cost airline based in Britain that has not increased its charge for travelling with sporting equipment.  However, its existing fee of £40 is already greater than its budget rivals.

easyJet has already doubled its fees for booking flights with a credit or debit card from £3.50 to £8 since last year, while Ryanair this year increased its summer baggage charges by £5 to up to £70 per return flight. 

More at TTel

Oh, Please

Harrods and Selfridges have launched the Christmas sections in their stores 149 days before the actual day.

Boycott these places.  Now.

More of this nonsense at TTel if you must.

Banned

Discipline in schools is under a new spotlight as figures from the Department of Education show almost 900 pupils are suspended in England each day for attacks or verbal abuse.  About 13 children a day are also permanently expelled for targeting teachers or classmates, according to the sta-testicles.


In total, schoolchildren were suspended on 166 900 occasions in 2009/10 for physical assault, verbal or racist abuse and threatening behaviour.  Children aged four and under were suspended on 1 210 occasions and permanently excluded 20 times.  Five year olds also faced 3 020 suspensions and 40 expulsions.  Boys were also three times more likely to be suspended than girls.


I wonder what the parents contribute to this?

Getting BetterA

After the miserable weather we experienced in England last week (and here for the first couple of days; it's lovely today), the UK can soon expect "summer" to start.  Apparently Britain's temperature will max out to 30 C.

Hope that carries into Europe- espesh Germany next week.

Bugged

EVERY copy of the News of the World printed since 1999 contained a tiny, hidden microphone, it has emerged.

Image
Murdoch would get very angry if someone pointed to the microphone before he had worked it out for himself
Police have discovered that each copy of the paper was in fact a covert bugging device, allowing News International to gather high-grade filth on its millions of readers.

A Scotland Yard source said: "It was basically a clever little thing stitched into the page somewhere so you would never know it was there.

"Sometimes it would be hidden under the nipple of a
Hollyoaks sex-kitten and sometimes it might be slipped into a photo of Sara Payne. No, other than a truly psychotic level of twisted bastardry, we've no idea either.

"And sometimes one of those double page spreads about the 'Fake Sheik' bugging someone would in fact, itself, be bugged."

The source said it was private investigator Glenn Mulcaire's job to monitor every copy then transcribe the conversations, adding: "He's absolutely fucking knackered."

Police made the discovery earlier this week after Mulcaire took them to a hangar at a disused airfield near Grantham.

The source said: "He pushed open these massive doors to reveal a huge space filled with millions and millions of boxes. End of
Raiders of the Lost Ark - exactly.

"I think we all instinctively knew what this was, but we just stood there staring at him for a full minute before someone eventually mumbled 'how... the fuck?'.

"He gave a cheeky little smile and said 'tiny microphone in every copy of the paper'.

"He then put his hand on the shoulder of one of my colleagues, whispered 'it's time to tell your wife you're gay' and then walked back to his car."


DMash

Inspired

Britain is basking in the glow of being recognised for its complete lack of imagination today, after the names Oliver and Olivia were announced as the most popular baby names of the year, again.

British parents everywhere are congratulating themselves and toasting with champagne over the news, whilst their new born children sit idly by, confused at what is going on.

An official statistician for the government said, “It is a remarkable achievement that parents everywhere have got the imagination to name their children after either the male or female version of the same name.”

Not only are Oliver and Olivia the most popular names, it also marks the second year in a row that both have topped the table, showing that Britain has lacked any imagination for over two years.

Those children who are now called Oliver and Olivia must look forward to the rest of their lives being classed as ‘common’.

An expert on baby names told us, “Oliver and Olivia will be 2030′s Trevor and Sharon – mark my words.”

Meanwhile, new and unique names have also entered the list included an interestingly named little girl called Harper Seven.

NT

Up Yours

BSKYB is to change its corporate logo to a manicured hand flipping off the whole world.

Image
It'll probably work really well
The new logo, based on a photo of Rupert Murdoch waving goodbye to redundant News of the World journalists, was felt to convey the universal message, regardless of language barriers, that everyone else can go fuck themselves up the pisshole with a bent fork.

A spokesman said: "It's important that we stay true to our core values of up yours, allied to maintaining rigorous standards of we could buy and sell you, you snivelling piece of shit.

"We went for the finger after our lawyers said there was copyright issue with the image of a boot crushing a human face forever."

The rebranding will involve all newly-installed Sky dishes being the shape of the 80 year-old's hand saying 'fuck you' to God, with pop-up adverts in every national newspaper reproducing his gnarled digit unfolding from the middle pages.

Customer reaction has been mixed, but a focus group survey found that most would have no problem with rectally inserting the company's new hand-shaped viewing card so long as football came on the telly.

BSkyB enabler Wayne Hayes said: "I think it’s dreadful what they did to Milli Vanilli - is that right?  - but I'm choosing to squint at the new logo until it looks like a spoon sticking out of a bowl of ice cream.

"Twelve months of lubrication and discomfort to 'install' my Sky card is still preferable to Gary Lineker presenting
Match Of The Day. And to avoid Alan Shearer I'd cheerfully smash my ballsack open with a pineapple."

DMash

Rapped



British Gas has been fined £2.5m for continually posting your complaints to the office notice-board for all the staff to laugh at.

Ofgem said British Gas has not been taking customer complaints seriously, after it realised that the sort of people who phone to complain about British Gas really aren’t worth bothering about.

An Ofgem spokesperson said, “£2.5m is a significant punishment for a company that makes almost £800m in profit. Oh yes it is.”

British Gas have reacted with complete indifference to the fine, pinning the notice from Ofgem next to a letter from Sharon Williams complaining that they’ve got her on the wrong tariff and an email from Dave in Accounts containing a load of Amy Winehouse jokes.

A spokesperson said, “What you have to remember is that with all the money we’re making, your individual problem is about four or five levels below the internal negotiations over the tea-making rota.”

“If a £2.5m fine makes everyone feel better about this, then great. Book us in for the same again next year.”

Customers have said they hope that the fine will at last get the energy supplier to begin feigning interest in their complaints.

Sally Redwood told us, “I called last week to tell them they’d got my bill wrong, but halfway through my complaint the person I was speaking to let out a massive yawn.”

“Apparently my issue was ‘tedious’ and I should really try harder to make it interesting if I want an entire minute of their attention.”

“Do you know where I can buy a gun?”

NT

Old News

Static electricity was 8% more severe in 2006 than 2005 due to an increase in ionized particles in the earth's ozone layer.

And nowadays?

Top of the Cops- 30

T-1000 (Terminator 2: Judgement Day)

T-1000 (Terminator 2: Judgement Day)

Best moment: Rising from the floor of a psychiatric institution as an oozing mass of liquid metal before taking on the shape of an unlucky security guard with some sort of protracting ice-pick for an index finger.
At the precinct: You could have a lot of fun with a magnet, but we wouldn’t recommend it if you value your own life.
Did you know?: Robert Patrick studied the head movements of the American bald eagle for his role as T-1000.

Final part tomorrow.

Top of the Cops- 29

Jack Traven (Speed)

Jack Traven (Speed)

Best moment: His come-back to a now decapitated Dennis Hopper who had just been bragging amount his smartness. “Yeah? Well, I’m taller.” So bad, it’s good.
At the precinct: We doubt he’s the greatest fan of public transport so give him the number of a reliable cabbie.
Did you know?: Keanu Reeves is said to have done 90% of his own stunts in the film.

Top of the Cops- 28

David Toshi (Zodiac)

David Toshi (Zodiac)

Best moment: His willingness to work alongside a man who draws cartoons for a living in the hunt for a notoriously mysterious serial killer. And of course that dapper bowtie.
At the precinct: The case never was solved so any information you may have on the Zodiac killer would certainly be welcome.
Did you know?: The finished film was actually sent out to cinemas titled Gemini.

Top of the Cops- 27

Eliot Ness (The Untouchables)

Eliot Ness (The Untouchables)

Best moment: He’s the man who put Al Capone behind bars. Few cops can top that.
At the precinct: Check with the law before you offer him a stiff drink. This is Mr Prohibition we’re talking about.
Did you know?: In real life, Ness and Capone never came face-to-face in their battles.