Friday, 31 May 2013

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

R U 18?

A man whose teenage son ran up a $54,000 credit card bill in a champagne-fuelled tour of Japanese hostess bars does not have to pay most of it back, a court has ruled.
The 16-year-old and his friend took his father's platinum American Express card around luxury nightspots in the ancient capital of Kyoto, quaffing whisky and sparkling wine at up to 380,000 yen ($3,700) per bottle, Japanese media said.
The youngster, who was not identified because of his age, was ushered into swanky clubs where patrons are expected to pay for time spent with attractive women, whose job it is to laugh demurely at their host's wit.
There is no suggestion he paid for sex.
Kyoto District Court ruled last week that bar owners and the credit card company bore the lion's share of responsibility for the misuse of the card in 2010, media reported.
The court ordered that the boy's father pay 800,000 yen out of the 5.5 million yen bill his son had racked up.
My Photo
Quite right- the bars should not have been serving him if he is under 18/21.  Entirely their fault.

Soups of the Day

I think I'd rather have the black bean soup. (Link)


Their light menu. (Link)


Reality check.




Over 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens each year.

Doing Just Fine

ENGLAND has told the English Defence League that they can stop trying to defend it now.

No ta
No ta

The ancient nation is embarrassed that other countries think it needs the help of some scrawny, misspelled tattoo carriers who reek of chip fat.
England said: “Having mosques built on you actually feels quite nice – when they all kneel to pray it’s like having a back massage.
“And at my age you’re glad of the company, so immigration doesn’t bother me. The more the merrier as long as they’re not French.”
The nation added: “If the EDL really wants to defend somebody I’m sure Wales could do with all the help it can get. And ‘wdl’ is actually the Welsh word for an undescended testicle, so that dovetails nicely.”
England has also asked the RAF to drop EDL members into Afghanistan so they can fight all the Muslims they want while being cut to pieces in a hail of bullets.
The specimens will be enticed into the back of a Hercules transport plane using a trail of deep-fried turkey parts.
An MoD spokesman said: “They’ll each be given a case of Stella and directions to the nearest Taliban headquarters.
“At which point they will be free to engage in a lively debate about culture.”


Red to Blonde

BRITAIN’S men never really got over Gillian Anderson, it has emerged.
Wants you
Wants you
The return of the timeless beauty in BBC drama The Fall has provoked widespread emotional incontinence among men who really thought they’d moved on.
Sales manager Tom Logan said: “Of course I was gutted when The X-Files ended but I’d thought about her less and less over the years.
“Just odd flashes of me and Gillian enjoying a romantic al fresco meal during an African safari trip that never happened.
“She’d retired from TV and made a film with Danny Dyer where she got her tits out, I got married and had two kids.
“But now’s she’s back in my life, looking better than ever, oozing mature sexual confidence in a police procedural drama.
“Deep in my heart I know it could still work between us. I am so conflicted.”
40-year-old engineer Stephen Malley said: “I spoke to Gillian last night and she wants to meet up for a drink and some intermediate petting.
“The fact that this conversation took place in my dream only proves the power of the psychic link we share.
“We’ve got so much in common. For example, we’re both keen on UFOs.
“Also she’s passionate about making television and I’m passionate about watching it.”

Howay the Lads

A TOURISM body has produced a list of Britain’s best destinations for aggressive, anti-social behaviour.
Caves are great for a sleazy day out
Caves are great for a sleazy day out
After releasing a picnic spot guide, Visit England has listed places in which to fight, goad animals or loudly tell your children to get fucked.
A spokesman said: “Exploring Britain isn’t just about the countryside or historic monuments. Being pinned to the ground by the police is part of our cultural heritage too.
“Our new list is a must for anyone wanting a completely dysfunctional day out. Britain is full of wonderful places to vandalise and friendly locals to intimidate.
“Unsurprisingly, Blackpool scored highly, thanks to its fantastic array of pubs where you can get into a fight at any time of the day. And of course there’s the beach if you fancy an invigorating piss in the sea.
“For those preferring the countryside, we’d recommend places like Avebury, with its fascinating collection of standing stones you can attempt to push over, or just draw cocks on.”
The list also contains family-friendly destinations such as isolated car parks where children could hang around aimlessly and damage cars with a football.
“And if you’re into dogging, Brentwood in Essex is perfect for people who like to watch men having sex with women who also look like men.”
Visit England now plans to compile a guide to anti-social activity holidays, such as kicking down dry stone walls that Guardian readers have just rebuilt.

Great Yarns

You spend two years reading and re-reading your text book and getting to know every theme and character- then your school realises it’s given you the wrong book.

"A" Level candidates at Newmarket College in Suffolk have been studying Bram Stoker’s Dracula for the last two years.  The trouble is, they should have been reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  The school realised its mistake just two weeks before the exam as staff failed to notice the national A-level syllabus had changed.

More at Metro

Happy Memories

Sheffield is the happiest city in the UK, according to a new survey.
Here are ten reasons why the steel city beat off competition from Edinburgh, Brighton and Cardiff to take the crown.
10. It’s a sweet city
Bertie Bassett
Bertie Bassett: Happy (Picture: File)
The Bassett’s confectionery mascot may be in semi-retirement, but the fact remains he is a man made entirely from Liquorice Allsorts. Who wears a top hat. And he’s from Sheffield.
9. It hits the right notes
Joe Elliot
Joe Elliot: Happy (Picture: Reuters)
A city that birthed Def Leppard, the Arctic Monkeys, two Cockers (Joe and Jarvis), not to mention Pulp, can rest easy in that its musical heritage is assured.
8. It has an amazing theatre
Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie O’Sullivan: Happy (Picture: Getty)
As well as playing host to the most important event in professional snooker, the Crucible, which seats just 980 people, is a local treasure due to its intimate setting. If anyone knows whether Arthur Miller’s play of the same name has been performed here, let us know.
7. It isn’t Chesterfield
Chesterfield: Not Sheffield (Picture: File)
Sheffield, you know what we’re talking about (sorry Chesterfield; so do you).
6. ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. And monkeys do too… if they have a gun. ‘
Eddie Izzard
Eddie Izzard: Happy (Picture: Getty)
It was at the city’s university that Eddie Izzard decided to jack in the accountancy and try his hand at a bit of comedy. Good call, as they say.
5. You may know that Sean Bean is from there
Sean Bean
Sean Bean: Winter is… happy (Picture: AP)
And here’s why he’s on the list.
4. Robin Hood
Robin Hood
Robin Hood: Happy (Picture: File)
You may associate the man who stole from the rich to give to the poor with Nottingham, but Robin of Loxley actually hails from Sheffield. This same spirit still holds true, with 72 per cent of people from Sheffield getting that warm glow from doing good deeds for others.
3. Getting better with age
Michael Palin
Michael Palin: Happy (Picture: EPA)
More people in Sheffield feel good about themselves at the age of 55-plus than anybody else. Which we salute.
2. Point in question
The Full Monty
The Fully Monty: Very happy (Picture: File)
How many other UK cities can say they have an undying link to the feelgood movie of 1997?
1. Jessica Ennis
Jessica Ennis
Jessica Ennis: Happy (Picture: Reuters)
Last summer may feel an age away already, but the entire world still remember the exploits of Sheffield-born Olympic heroine Jessica Ennis CBE.


There are a million ants for every person on Earth.


Plans are apparently afoot in the Scottish Highlands to ban all glass vessels in pubs after 9pm and replace them with plastic.

The policy is already enforced in late-night bars and clubs. Highland police are apparently concerned of “potential injury” if glasses continue to be used and now want to apply the glass ban to pint, wine, Champagne, whisky and cocktail glasses in pubs too.
According to The Daily Telegraph, landlords immediately labelled the motion as “nanny-state interference” and said licensing boards were treating customers “like children”.
Landlords in one of the Scottish Highland’s main towns, Inverness, have been particularly vocal in their criticism of the proposal.
Kit Fraser, owner of Hootananny in the town, told the Telegraph that the idea was, “the nanny state at its worst and is putting out all the wrong signals.
“Just because there’s one incident everybody is affected. That is how the criminals win.”
The Highland Licensing Board has invited the public to give their opinion on the policy.
The deadline for responses is 31 July and the policy, if implemented, could be in place by the end of the year.
The chairwoman of the Highland Licensing Board, Maxine Smith, told the broadsheet: “We have had some customers and members of the public ask if the use of plastic glasses is still necessary with all the safety procedures that are in place.
“We need to see what the police are saying about the policy and what evidence there is about incidents.”

The Oatmeal


Letters of Note

From the pages of Diane Keaton's memoir, Then Again, come four brief and unsurprisingly entertaining letters from the inimitable Woody Allen. Says Keaton:
I was his endearing oaf. He was my "White Thing." [...] We thrived on demeaning each other. His insights into my character were dead on and—duh!—hilarious. This bond remains the core of our friendship and, for me, love.
The first letter was written in March of 1969, as the pair starred in Woody's Broadway play, Play It Again, Sam; the remaining three were penned in 1974/5, as they filmed Love and Death.

(Source: Then Again, by Diane Keaton; Image: Diane Keaton & Woody Allen, via.)

Beet Head,

Humans are clean slates. There are no qualities indigenous to men or women. True, there is a different biology, but all defining choices in life affect both sexes & a woman, any woman is capable of defining herself with total FREEDOM. Therefore women are anything they choose to be & frequently have chosen & defined themselves greater than men. Don't be fooled by THE ARTS! They're no big deal; certainly no excuse for people acting like jerks & by that I mean, so what if up till now there were very few women artists. There may have been women far deeper than, say, Mozart or Da Vinci but contributing their genius in a different socially circumscribed context. Note how I switched from pen to pencil at this moment because in Lelouch's film, A MAN & A WOMAN, he switches from color to black & White—So I underline my point using the same symbolism—Very clever? OK, then, very stupid.



Greetings Worm,

We have enough rehearsal time, but not as much as in L.A. Still, I think Love and Death will be easier than Sleeper as there is not a lot of...falls and spills and water stunts...Our dialogue exchanges should be brisk and lively...but we'll get into that snookums...speak with you soon.

Also finished 1st draft of 2 New Yorker pieces. Hey! My book—Getting even—is a hit in France. Go figure. You remain a flower—too, too delicate for this harsh world & Dorrie is a flower & your mother is a flower & your father is a vegetable & Randy is a flower in his way & Robin is a cat. And I remain a weed.

Will call.



Greetings Worm,

I am jettisoning some old socks in my travel bag to make room for some idiot's sunflower seeds. Guess who? You, my pal, are my cross to bear.

So they’re saying I’m a genius—but you know better, you little hellgrammite. Are you sure they're not calling me "White Thing?" "And he changes his underwear to sleep in." And all the things you call me rather than genius? I am tortured by the most incredible dreams of sexuality that revolve around you and a large 2E BRA that speaks Russian

That genial pal and good egg, Woody



I have decided to let your family make me rich! It turns out they are wonderful material for a film. A quite serious one, although one of the three sisters is a fool and a clown. (I think you can guess which, ducky!) I didn’t send you a big letter, because you’re coming to Paris soon. I wonder if your observations about my family clock them as weirdly as I see yours? Do you have insights into my father & mother? I can imagine. The blind perceiving the blind. Last night I had a tender dream about me & my mother. First dream of her in years. Wonder why? I wept in the dream & ate my laundry. Just kidding—I ate her boiled chicken which tastes worse.

Love from the fabulous Mister A, a man with healing humour.
Letters of Note

Viva America

Fastest growing cities in US (%)

  • 1: San Marcos, Texas (4.91)
  • 2: South Jordan, Utah (4.87)
  • 3: Midland, Texas (4.87)
  • 4: Cedar Park, Texas 4.67)
  • 5: Clarktown, Tenn (4.43)
  • 6: Alpharetta, Georgia (4.37)
  • 7: Georgetown, Texas (4.21)
  • 8: Irvine, California (4,21)
  • 9: Buckeye, Arizona (4.14)
  • 10: Conroe, Texas (4.01)
US Census Bureau, 2011-12


Rotating cone on pelican crossing

What is it?
It's a small, unassuming plastic or metal cone which you can find on the underside of pedestrian crossings.

When the green man lights up to show traffic should stop and it's your turn to cross, the cone starts spinning. It points downwards and has tactile ridges on it.
What's it doing there?
It's there for those people who can't see the lights, like visually impaired or blind people. When they feel it spinning they know they have the right of way.
When crossing a road you can stand near the control box with your hand on the cone and independently know you can cross when it spins, without having to get help from a passer-by, if there is one.
But I thought crossings beeped for blind people?
Not all crossings make sounds. For instance, if two crossings are close to each other neither will beep in case pedestrians are misled into walking out into oncoming traffic on the wrong road. And, in any case, a tactile indicator helps deaf-blind people too. They can't hear audible signals. The cones provide the same information as the beeping signal but in tactile form. Some crossings both beep and rotate.
How do people use it?
Hugh Huddy is blind and works for visual impairment charities' umbrella group Vision 2020. He says he is always pleased to see a cone on a crossing but wouldn't just walk into a road because of a spinning mechanism: "An important point to make is that I wait for the cone to rotate but combine the information that it gives me with listening to the traffic on the road in front of me. You can hear whether they're changing gear or slowing down.
Pedestrian with hand on rotating cone at a pelican crossing
"The cone isn't telling you it's safe to cross, it's telling you the light is on. For instance, cyclists like whizzing through crossings sometimes, even though they shouldn't."
Do all crossings have cones?
No. Crossings are maintained by local authorities which are not legally obliged to make them accessible. The Department for Transport says it encourages their use, though, and says that all signal-controlled crossings can have them. This includes the ones with the attractive bird related names - pelicans, puffins, toucans - and also junction crossings.
Who invented them?
Nottingham University took the idea to the Department of Transport, as it was known then, in the 1980s. It wasn't until 1989 that they began to appear on our streets. Interestingly, the cones still aren't built into the boxes and have to be retro-fitted. Radix, the company behind the cones, says it has sold about 10,000 units per year since 1995.
What do I do with this information?
You could try it out for yourself. Do as blind people do and stand at the crossing with your hand jammed under the control box waiting for the cone to spin. Beware, in winter do it with gloves on, that metal control box can be freezing cold.


This spring is on track to be the coldest for more than 50 years, provisional Met Office figures suggest.  This month has seen lower than average temperatures and it has been wetter than usual, forecasters said.

The UK's mean temperature for spring- based on figures from 1st March to 28th May, is currently 6 C.  If conditions stay the same in the last days of May, it will be the coldest spring since 1962, and the fifth coldest since records began in 1910.

The Met Office said earlier figures from 1st March to 15th May suggested spring was on track to be the sixth coldest since records began, and the coldest since 1979, but cooler than average weather in the past fortnight has pushed the mean temperature for the season slightly lower, it said.

Simply Brilliant


Half of all crimes are committed by people under the age of 18.

Just Heard

That the Brazil and Team Eng-er-land match is to go ahead after all.  Unlucky for England fans...

Going Up

Twenty BBC employees have faced 36 allegations of sexually abusing children and teenage victims since the Jimmy Savile scandal rocked the corporation last year.
The complaints about an unknown number of victims under the age of 18 have come to light in the six months since October, according to a Freedom of Information request to the BBC.
The corporation said it was "horrified" by the allegations made against the 20, who have worked for the BBC in some capacity over the past five decades.
The complaints were among a total of 152 recent and historic allegations of sexual abuse against 81 BBC employees and freelancers, including 48 about Savile. Each of the complaints, involving adults and children, have been made to the BBC since October.
Half of the accused are current members of BBC staff or contributors, the FoI request revealed, and cases against five are being examined by the police. Of these, three have been suspended pending the outcome of the police investigations.
BBC disclosureAllegations of sexual abuse against current and ex BBC staff (click for larger image)
It is not known whether the claims relate to any on-screen stars other than Savile.
The FoI request, which has been seen by MediaGuardian, found that allegations about 25 current staff or freelance contributors had been reported to police, with no further action taken in 20 cases.
The Tory MP Rob Wilson accused the BBC of "turning a blind eye to sexual abuse and allowing powerful bullies to prosper" and urged Tony Hall, the new director general, to treat them with "the greatest seriousness and rigour".
He added: "For years the BBC's management allowed a culture to develop of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse and allowing powerful bullies to prosper. The internal culture of the BBC was rotten and it remains to be seen whether it still is.
"It is appalling though that an organisation could have been managed in this way. The BBC's new leadership needs to quickly demonstrate that the Corporation has changed decisively in how it deals with such disturbing allegations and the culture it springs from."
Some of the allegations are expected to be passed to the Dame Janet Smith review, the judge-led inquiry into the culture and practices of the BBC in the Savile era.
The 152 allegations are understood to be separate to the 37 cases of alleged sexual harassment at the BBC uncovered by Dinah Rose QC in her review,published on 2 May, that examined the past six years.
The BBC said in a statement: "The BBC has been appalled by the allegations of harassment and abuse that have emerged since the Savile scandal broke.
"We have launched a series of reviews that aim to understand if there are any issues with the current culture of the BBC or the historic culture and practices from as far back as 1965 to see what lessons can be learned to prevent this happening again.
"As part of these reviews the BBC is conducting extensive searches of its records and has asked BBC staff and contributors past and present to share any information that might be useful. Their contributions are vital and we are grateful for them."

He's Not Wrong

This made me chuckle- a rather frustrated Team Eng-er-land fan letting rip at Hodgson's comments:
No-one seems to have mentioned it yet, but for me the most perturbing thing about last night wasn't the shit served up on the pitch, but rather this:
"Borussia played 4-4-2 in the same way we played 4-4-2"
Seriously? I mean, I don't even know where to begin... The England football manager believes that shower of turds we just served up, using the tactical equivalent of a Sopwith Camel in an age of Eurofighter Typhoons, is in the same mould as Borussia Dortmund, one of the most tactically progressive sides in the world? That is some advance level of delusion.
"People talk about 4-4-2 but was [Wayne] Rooney a midfield player, one who plays behind the front player, an out-and-out front player?"
Roy, it was an old fashioned, predictable, useless, 4-4-2. Stop trying to justify your clueless nonsense as anything else. The fact that Rooney ran around like a headless fucking chicken doesn't mean you've invented a new formation. In fact, it probably made things worse, as it turns out Rooney was useless in midfield and attack.
"There's been far too much discussion about systems"
Au Contraire Roy, there hasn't been nearly enough, especially not from you. England play outdated, poor, boring football, and Roy's post match witterings show that under him nothing will change, Simply because he doesn't have a fucking clue. Roy, you are a tactical dinosaur, please get out.


Nice Chap, But...

So Mark Hughes takes over at Stoke.  After spells at Blackburn, Man City and QPR he's not really left his mark and I suspect his team will be at the wrong end of the table, possibly fighting relegation.  Not the most inspire or assured appointment.

This Weekend

The Italian MotoGP at Mugello.  *yay*


England made the long journey to Brazil just hours after a dismal Wembley draw with the Republic of Ireland; whether they will make the same trip in 12 months' time is a matter for debate.

Sunday's friendly in the great football temple of the Maracana marks England's first trip to Rio since they won 2-0 in 1984 and John Barnes announced himself on the world stage with that famous solo goal.

How Roy Hodgson's England cry out for such moments of inspiration now. And how the manager must discover them from somewhere if the nagging questions about England's ability to qualify for next summer's World Cup carnival are to be erased from doubting minds.

The meeting with Brazil is one of the key dates in the Football Association's 150th anniversary but there was no sense of celebration or air of optimism in a sterile 1-1 stalemate against Giovanni Trapattoni's stubborn Ireland side.

Hodgson dressed up an ordinary performance in finery. No complaints and - the time-honoured managerial refuge - "lots of positives".

Many would take issue with that statement as England, admittedly shorn of some fairly crucial players, lacked creativity and inspiration despite dominating possession in the second half.

The reality was that this was desperately uninspiring and dull.

It is hard to imagine viewings of this display causing concerns in Brazil between now and Sunday, or among any of the world's elite group between now and next summer. England's new kit may be a replica of those worn by the greatest German sides but there the comparison stops.

The sense that this England, and the blame for this cannot be entirely laid at Hodgson's door, increasingly represents a second-tier football power is strengthened with performances such as this.

Yes it was a friendly, but England have made a habit of drawing games and it is a habit they must change. Quickly.

Hodgson's hopes of World Cup qualification set great store by the fact that three of their last four games are at Wembley, with the toughest of all away to Ukraine.

And yet a failure to beat a determined, but hardly threatening, Republic team ranked 39th in the world does not offer any guarantee of victory against Montenegro and Poland in October.

In Hodgson's defence, he was without the midfield creation of Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere, while a bright and breezy Daniel Sturridge did not survive the first half after sustaining an ankle injury.

Frank Lampard remained the old reliable with his 29th England goal but, at times, Wayne Rooney looked like he was running on a flat battery. There was no shortage of effort but the spark to create an ignition was not quite there.

Former England captain Gary Lineker pulled no punches with his tactical assessment of Hodgson's approach. Twitter only allows a short message but he made it a very powerful one with the words: "Don't like England playing this system. So easy to play against. Brazil will thrash us if we line up this way. Predictable and dated.

"Even though results haven't been great, felt tactically England were maturing, but this is a step back to the dark ages of two lines of four.

"It's not about playing in straight lines. It's about playing between the lines. Depth gives flexibility, passing alternatives, creativity."

The reference to "the dark ages" will cut through Hodgson, who likes to think of himself as modern in coaching terms, but Lineker's words carry weight and merit - and he will have taken no pleasure in saying them.

Hodgson likened England's system to that used by Borussia Dortmund - the system, rather than the style or quality it should be stressed.

Perhaps Hodgson's timing was awry and he needed a little more of a delay in this comparison, it coming so soon after the outstanding German side had played their full part, even in defeat, in a magnificent Champions League final against Bayern Munich at Wembley.

England's manager, correctly, states that these games - and indeed Sunday's friendly in Rio - are preparation for the main event of the World Cup qualifiers. The problems come with what we are learning about England, namely that it is by no means a given they will reach Brazil next summer.

Even at full strength, England look a limited team. Shorn of key players, they inevitably look worse.

The sight and rich history of the new Maracana stadium should give an instant lift to England's players and make them determined to come back for more in 12 months.

To achieve that, they must do a lot better than this.