Tuesday, 31 July 2012

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Holiday Reads

More holidaymakers are taking e-readers, such as a Kindle, than the traditional book, a new survey suggests, as the popularity of the holiday paperback appears to be on the wane.

People who travelled abroad on holiday in the last 12 months were surveyed and of those who had taken some holiday reading, 51% had used an e-reader while 49% had opted for a traditional book.

Holidaymakers aged 40 and above were most likely to use an e-readers, with only 11% of 18 to 25 year olds using them.  44% of those who used the electronic books, said it was easier to hold while 29% said it was easier to see in the sun.

From those who went with traditional books, around a quarter felt e-readers were too expensive while 46% said they simply preferred books.

I'm a huge fan of e-books, you can carry far more, they are easier to hold, you can vary font size to suit eyesight and best of all, you can read in bed without the need of a light.  A winner in so many ways.

Not Yet, But Soon?

Here are ten sports that aren't a part of the Olympics that Buzz Feed feels should be featured:

10. Pickleball

Pickleball is a uniquely American sport: it's fun for all ages, can be played with minimal equipment, and is named after a dog. Invented in the 1960s outside of Seattle, Pickleball is a version of tennis (though it is commonly played on a badminton court with the net lowered) where the rackets are replaced with table tennis paddles and the ball is actually a specialty made wiffle ball.
Pickleball was designed to be a sport that would eliminate the problems that would occur when trying to play with groups of varying ages. Because of the slow speed of the sport it is popular among some elderly communities as a form of fun competitive exercise, but also as an activity they can do with their grandchildren. It was named after a dog, Pickles, who had a habit of running off with errant balls.

9. Korfball

Korfball is a Dutch sport that was featured as a demonstration sport in the 1920 and 1928 Olympic Games. It was the sport that featured both men and women players on the court at the same time, which made it quite controversial. Journalists refused to take it seriously, and women wearing sportswear (which showed knees and ankles) was shocking and appalling to culture a the time. Still, Korfball thrived, and is now extremely popular in Taiwan and is played in over 50 countries.
The IKF Korfball World Championship is held around every four years, and has been dominated by the Netherlands and Belgium, with the two countries meeting in every single title game. While it's unlikely to join the Olympics anytime soon, as it remains a regional sport, it does have a growing international presence.

8. Street Luge

Street Luge
The Winter Olympics has a number of events that became popular as extreme sports or are winterized versions of summer sports. It's time for the Summer Games to get on this trend and add the Street Luge. Abandoned by attempts to make the X-Games more arena friendly, the street luge is one of the most dangerous sports in the world.
Street luge was invented in San Francisco when some skateboarders realized they could get higher speeds by laying down on their board. Eventually, specialized equipment was created and different styles of street luge became prominent. It was a featured sport at the X-Games until 2001, and has recently consolidated into one governing body to make international competition easier.

7. Jai Alai

Jai Alai
Jai alai is billed as the fastest ball sport in the world, though it no longer holds that world record. A combination of handball, lacrosse and racquetball Jai alai is a fast-paced, high speed sport that is popular among gamblers in Florida and New England. The nets players use to catch the ball were not always part of the game--you originally caught the ball with your hand. A child, who could not afford the leather gloves required of the game, developed the basket hands that are now a mainstay in the sport.
The ball in Jai alai has been clocked going at 188 miles per hour, which is faster than the pole speed of the 2011 Daytona 500. The high speeds necessitates the need for helmets, as five people have died playing the sport. It is also played in Cuba, Mexico, the Philippines and South America.

6. Extreme Croquet

Extreme Croquet
How do you make the game of croquet interesting and challenging for experienced players? You throw them into the woods. Extreme croquet does just that, and uses the natural terrain such as trees, streams and brush to add a new challenge to the old game.
Regular croquet was an event in the 1900 Olympics, and a variant of it was featured in 1904, but the sport hasn't seen the Olympics in over 100 years. Perhaps the new challenges of an extreme environment is just want to sport needs to be thrust from the front lawns of New England to the stage of the Olympics.

5. Skijoring

Want to go dogsled racing, but don't have a sled? No issue, you can just grab your skis and go Skijoring. Popular in locations with harsh winter climates, skijoring is a good way for some dogs to get exercise in the winter, while also testing the balance and skill of their owners.
There are other variations of skijoring, including an Equestrian variety that was a demonstration sport in the 1928 Olympic Games. However, canine skijoring has grown considerably in popularity over the last 50 years. Unlike the equestrian variety, there can be no external motivation (such as a harness) for the dog to run. He must run because he wants to run, and be able to respond to his owner's commands. There have been some efforts to get skijoring featured in the Winter Olympic Games.

4. Underwater Hockey (Octopush)

Underwater Hockey (Octopush)
Underwater hockey is one of those sports that is a lot of fun to play, but not very much fun for spectators. Because, as the name suggests, much of the action happens underwater, so in order to see the game you have to be underwater. Underwater hockey players have extremely good breath control and lung capacity, as the sport requires them to stay underwater for long periods of time.
Physical contact is not a part of underwater hockey, and because being underwater pretty much limits or eliminates individual advantages, it relays much more on team play. While not great for spectators, it has been well received when filmed with underwater cameras, and is quickly becoming the most popular underwater team sport.

3. Bandy

Bandy is in the process of attempting to become an Olympic sport, and will be a demonstration sport in the 2014 Winter games (as it was in the 1952 games). It is recognized by the IOC but has never been an official Olympic sport. Bandy is often called 'Russian Hockey', and for good reason, the sport has many similarities to hockey (as well as soccer).
To put it in the simplest way possible: Imagine playing hockey on a frozen soccer field with smaller goals and a round, orange ball, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what Bandy is like. Similar to hockey in many ways, it relies even more on strategy than hockey due to the increased size of the field. Bandy is popular in countries like England, Canada, but is most popular in Russia which has dominated the sport since it was invented.

2. Kayak Polo

Kayak Polo
Kayak Polo is, like it's cousin water polo, a marine version of the equestrian classic. Recognized by the International Canoe Federation and the IOC, but not yet an Olympic Sport, Kayak Polo is exactly what it sounds like, namely Water Polo in canoes or kayaks.
But what separates kayak polo from other forms of the sport is the return of contact. You can 'tackle' other teams with your canoe, which means that, when playing kayak polo, you WILL get wet. Unlike crew, kayak polo involves more direct interaction between teams, and can be extremely exciting and intense when played among highly skilled players. The sport is internationally dominated by European players, who have won every men's and women's title since 2000.

1. Sepak Takraw

Sepak Takraw
Whenever I watch a sepak takraw, I like to imagine how the sport was invented. I like to picture a soccer fan watching a volleyball match and saying "That's too easy! Now if they could do that without using their hands, that'd be something." Because that is, in essence the sport: Volleyball with the 'no hands or arms' rules from soccer.
While the sport is extremely popular in Southeast Asia, it is not yet an Olympic sport. There have been several pushes in recent years to include the sport, but China's domination of the medal tally have slowed some of the progress. Still, it is an incredible sport to watch, and it is starting to gain some attention in the United States and other countries outside Southeast Asia, and has become a true international sport.
Source: screenok.com

2 100%

Genealogical records have revealed that a financial high-flyer from 1901, Edward Holden of Midland Bank, earned £5 000 a year.  Calculated using Retail Price Index and historical inflation data, his salary is worth £440 000 today.   By contrast, Bob Diamond, ex-Barclays boss was paid a £1.35 million basic salary last year.

A teacher in 1911 earned £175 (worth £15 000 today) while a qualified teacher in 2011 was on £31 000- a rise of just over 100%, compared to bankers’ increase of 242%.

According to a Financial Times study of CEO pay, the true figure for bankers’ earnings with bonuses and other perks is nearer £8 million a year– a 2 100% rise between 1901 and last year.

How earnings have changed over 100 years

Salaries paid in 1911:

John Dunn, Parr’s Bank (now part of NatWest) – £6,000 (£530,000 today)
Edward Holden, Midland Bank (now part of HSBC) – £5,000 (£440,000 today)
Teacher – £175 (£15,000)

Salaries paid in 2011:

Bob Diamond, formerly of Barclays – £1.35million
Stephen Hester, RBS – £1.2million
Antonio Horta-Osorio, Lloyds – £1.06million
Teacher – £31,000

Grassing in the UK

More than £1 million has been paid to members of the public who blew the whistle on tax dodgers.  The little-known bounty rewards were handed to hundreds of people for exposing cheats, with payouts ranging from £50 to six figure sums.

Payments rose by more than a fifth to £374 000 for the past financial year, compared with the previous 12 months, which means HM Revenue & Customs awarded more than £1 million since the financial crisis struck in 2008.A spokesman added.   

"However, we would expect individuals to think first about the wrongdoing rather than about how much they might make." 

Some £309 620 was awarded in 2010-11, £384 110 in 2009-10 and £281 000 in 2008-09, with payments dependent on how much tax was recouped as a result of the confidential tip-offs.  HMRC said the totals, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act, were lumpy, with a few large rewards skewing the figures.

"Tax non-compliance has a much higher profile in the public mind.  If we are recovering many millions of pounds, the payment reflects that."

In 2008, £100 000 was reportedly paid to a former Liechtenstein banker for providing a list of secret offshore bank accounts held by Britons.  However, experts warned paying substantial sums could create a more questionable bounty-hunter culture.  HMRC does not openly promote the payments, with some officials denying that rewards are paid.

About £42 million in unpaid tax was recovered between 2005 and 2009.

Shitander Shame

Shitander will begin to charge its 230 000 small business customers £7.50 a month for bank accounts originally marketed as "free forever".

The "bank" says the accounts are "no longer viable" and argues it will provide a better service and more interest for the extra £20.7 million the charge will bring in annually.

Small business owners unhappy with the £90 a year charge are advised to complain to the bank in the first instance, followed by the financial ombudsman if after eight weeks they remain dissatisfied with the outcome.

The Federation of Small Businesses is investigating whether Shitander could be in breach of contract but experts said the bank can impose charges if sufficient notice is given. 

The bank said the move comes after it asked for customers’ views.  In exchange for monthly fees, a higher rate of interest, 0.25%, will be paid on balances held in business current accounts.

Empty Spaces

The empty seats seen at many venues in the opening days of the London 2012 Olympics are merely a deliberate illustration of how the modern Olympic games are all about money, claims Chairman Lord Coe.

The sight of empty seats has been a feature of the television coverage across the globe, forcing Lord Coe to come out and explain it was part of the plan all along.

“It’s aspirational.” he told reporters keen for an explanation.

“All the young people watching the Olympics want to be the next Usain Bolt or Jessica Ennis, but now they also want to be so rich that they can have the best seats in the house and still not be arsed to use them.”

12 year-old Chantelle Williams told us, “I did want to be a heptathlete, but now I think I’d like to be a global brand manager for a leading sports manufacturer so I can tell people what to do and have so much stuff I don’t give a shit about the things ordinary people would kill for.”

Simon Matthews, a 14 year-old student from London told us, “When I grow up I want to run a multinational conglomerate that will sue anyone who uses the Olympic logo we paid millions for the rights to, and then leave the seats we’ve bought completely empty throughout the game.”

“That’s real power right there. Who wants to be Usain Bolt when you can pretty much own EVERY Usain Bolt?”

Empty Olympic seats

Social Anthropologist Martin Edwards claims the empty seats are a form of territory marking by the major sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics.

He said, “It’s like in the medieval times when the head of a competing tribe’s leader was placed on a spike in order to show enemies how powerful a tribe was.”

“Well this is much the same. What the sponsors are saying is, ‘We’re so powerful we can leave those impossible-to-buy seats empty – so don’t fuck with us’.”



Coffee is generally roasted between 204°C - 218°C and the longer the beans are roasted the darker the roast.  Dark roasted coffee beans contain less caffeine than medium roasted ones- the longer a coffee is roasted the more caffeine is burnt off.

The Ones That Got Away

 Twin Jewel Thieves Create Perfect Alibi – 5 Million Euros Stolen

Twin Jewel Thieves Create Perfect Alibi  – 5 Million Euros Stolen
On Feb 25, 2009, three masked robbers boldly busted into Kaufhaus Des Westens, the second largest department store in Europe. Via a rope ladder, the men were able to ransack the main floor without tripping any sensors or alarms. But what may have been a fatal error – leaving behind a single glove – ended up creating a bizarre situation. DNA found on the glove matched TWO people: identical twins identified as Hassan and Abbas O. German law requires that each person be individually convicted and because their DNA is so similar, neither can be exclusively pinned to the evidence. German police were forced to set them both free, and the third man has yet to be found. (Link 1 | Link 2)

 Dan “DB” Cooper - $200,000 US – Only Unsolved Crime in US Aviation History

Dan “DB” Cooper - $200,000 US – Only Unsolved Crime in US Aviation History
He's the world's most famous fugitive. On the night before Thanksgiving, November 24, 1971, a passenger by the name of Dan Cooper boarded a plane in Portland, OR bound for Seattle. Clad in a suit and raincoat, wearing dark glasses and carrying a briefcase, he sat silently in the back of the plane. After calmly lighting a cigarette, he ordered a whiskey from the stewardess and then handed her a note. It read, 'I HAVE A BOMB IN MY BRIEFCASE. I WILL USE IT IF NECESSARY. I WANT YOU TO SIT NEXT TO ME. YOU ARE BEING HIJACKED.' He demanded $200,000 and four parachutes delivered to him in Seattle. When the plane landed, he released all the passengers, save for the pilot, co-pilot, and stewardess. Once the money was delivered in the middle of the brightly-lit tarmac, Cooper demanded the pilot take off for Mexico, flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet. Shortly after takeoff, over the mountains northwest of Portland, the six-foot-tall Cooper strapped on a parachute and jumped. He was never heard from again. Did he survive? In 1980, roughly $6000 was found of the money in bundles on a beach, but no signs of a body. The case remains open and is the only unsolved crime in US aviation history. (Link | Via)

 Gardner Museum Art Theft - $300 Million US

Gardner Museum Art Theft - $300 Million US
On March 18, 1990, Saint Patrick's Day, policemen arrived at the door of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, claiming to have received a call about a disturbance. Breaking protocol, the security officer let them in. One of the men said he had a warrant for the guard's arrest, and they convinced him to step away from his post. Bad move: the “policemen” were really criminals in disguise, and they quickly handcuffed him and ordered him to call the other guard to the front, who was also subdued. The thieves absconded with 13 paintings, including masterworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas, worth a third of a billion dollars. To this date, no one has been arrested in conjunction with the crime, nor have the paintings ever been recovered. Call it the Luck of the Irish(Link | Via | Photo)

 Japan's 300 Million Yen Robbery

Japan's 300 Million Yen Robbery
Tokyo, Japan, December 10, 1968 – A Nihon Shintaku Ginko Bank car, transporting 300 million Yen ($817,000 US) in its trunk, is pulled over by a policeman on a motorcycle, who warns them of a bomb planted underneath. Since there had already been bomb threats against the bank, the four passengers exited the vehicle as the uniformed patrolman inspected below the car. Moments later, smoke and flames could be seen under the vehicle, causing the men to run for cover. Of course, it turned out the smoke was from a flare and the cop was a phony. He jumped in the car and sped off with the loot. Even though there were 120 pieces of evidence, 110,000 suspects and 170,000 police investigators, the man was never caught. In 1975, the statute of limitations ended, and in 1988 all civil liabilities were voided, but still no one ‘fessed up. Come on now, this would make an incredible Movie-of-the-Week! (Link | Via)

 World's Largest Diamond Heist -- $100 Million US?

World's Largest Diamond Heist --  $100 Million US?
It's the largest diamond heist in history from the world's most impenetrable vault, located in Antwerp, Belgium. Two floors below the Diamond Centre, it was protected by a lock with 100 million possible combinations, as well as heat/motion sensors, radar, magnetic fields, and a private security force. On the weekend of Feb 15, using a series of moves that would make Danny Ocean jealous, the thieves were able to silently enter the vault, bust open the safe deposit boxes, and make off with the glittering loot. And although the purported ring leader Leonardo Notarbartolo was caught and sentenced to 10 years, he has since been released on parole. Notarbartolo claimed in aninterview in Wired Magazine that the true take was only $20 million and was part of a larger conspiracy involving insurance fraud. Whatever -- the loot was never recovered and everybody literally made off like bandits.(Link | Via | Photo)

 The First National Vault Robbery - $1 Million US

The First National Vault Robbery - $1 Million US
It's like something David Copperfield would have devised. On Friday October 7, 1977, before Columbus Day Weekend, a bank worker counted $4million dollars in cash and stored it in a locked money cart within a heavily guarded vault, two floors below the Chicago First National Bank. Then poof! Tuesday morning, the money is counted again, and exactly $1 million dollars – in $50 and $100 dominations and weighing over 80 pounds – had vanished into thin air. In 1981, $2300 of the money showed up in a drug raid, but otherwise both the perpetrators and the cash are still at large.(Link | Via | Photo)

 The Harry Winston Heist - $108 Million US

The Harry Winston Heist - $108 Million US
The winner for boldest burglary goes to the perpetrators of the so-called Harry Winston Heist. On December 4, 2008, four men, three of whom wore long blonde wigs and disguised themselves as women, charmed their way into the famous Paris jewelry store just before closing time. Once inside, they brandished a .357 and a hand grenade and began their pillaging. Less than 15 minutes later they escaped with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds worth an estimated $108 million US. Investigators believe it to be the work of the notorious Serbian criminal gang The Pink Panthers, responsible for $132 million in robberies around the world, and have never been nabbed.(Link | Via | Photo)

 The Tucker Cross Heist – Priceless

The Tucker Cross Heist – Priceless
The Tucker Cross, named after diver Teddy Tucker who, in 1955, recovered it from the 1594 wreck of the San Pedro, was a 22-karat gold cross embedded with sparkling green emeralds and considered priceless. Nonetheless, Tucker sold it to the Government of Bermuda for an undisclosed sum. In 1975, the Cross was moved to the Bermuda Museum of Art to be displayed for Queen Elizabeth II. No one knows when or how, but during this transition, a clever thief replaced the original with a cheap plastic replica. Presumably, this historical artifact was melted down, stripped of its jewels, and funneled into the Black Market(Link)

 Baghdad Bank Robbery - $282 million

Baghdad Bank Robbery - $282 million
Yes, Saddam Hussein allegedly pillaged a billion dollars before the US-led invasion, but we all know what happened to him. On July 11th, 2007 a different Thief of Baghdad struck… and got away with it. Dar Es Salaam, a private financial institution, was knocked over by two, or possibly three guards, absconding with a third of a billion in cold, hard US bills. Perhapsthe bank itself did not want people to start wondering where, how, and why it had so much cash at hand, so they have kept mum and there has been minimal press. Somewhere, SOMEBODY is rolling around naked in a wad of cash and laughing all the way from the bank(Link | Via)

 The French “Vacuum Gang” – 600,000 EU and counting…

The French “Vacuum Gang” – 600,000 EU and counting…
This crew wins the award for Most Ingenious. Monoprix, a French supermarket chain, locks their Euros inside steel safes many inches thick. But the pneumatic tubes connected TO the safes… not so much. Using little more than a drill and a vacuum, the gang à l'aspirateur (vacuum gang in English) have so far siphoned away 600,000 EU in 15 robberies. Suckers…(Link)