Saturday, 31 May 2014

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

General Prayuth Speaks

General Prayuth
Thailand's junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha. Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters
Thailand's junta chief on Friday ruled out an election in the country for at least a year to allow time for political "reforms".
He also defended the military coup after growing international alarm.
In his first televised national address after announcing the army takeover last week, Prayuth Chan-ocha said the regime planned to work towards returning the nation of 67 million people to democracy in about 15 months.
The general, who was given crucial royal endorsement on Monday, said a first phase of about three months would focus on "reconciliation" in the divided nation.
A cabinet and a draft constitution would then be put in place to enact reforms during a second year-long phase. Only after this could elections be held.
"Stage three is a general election under an absolute democratic system that is acceptable to all sides,” he said. “Laws will be modernised so we can have good and honest people to run the country."
Thailand's military seized power on May 22 – the 19th actual or attempted putsch in its modern history – and set about rounding up scores of political figures, academics and activists.
Authorities had abrogated the constitution, curtailed civil liberties under martial law and imposed a nightly curfew.
Prayuth reiterated warnings against dissent in the face of near daily pockets of anti-coup protest.
He also said restrictions on the press and social media were "necessary" because they had been used to stoke divisions in the past.
Thailand had seen months of debilitating protest against the government of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was turfed from office by the courts for abuse of power just weeks before the remainder of the beleaguered leadership was ousted in the coup.
Demonstrators called for political "reforms" before an election in a bid to rid the country of the influence of the Shinawatra family, particularly the deeply divisive former prime minister Thaksin – Yingluck's brother – who was deposed in a 2006 coup.
That military intervention unleashed nearly a decade of often bloody political turmoil, with mass protest by both rival groups on the streets.
Prayuth, whose timetable echoed suggestions from the anti-Shinawatra rallies, said the coup was necessary to restore stability to the kingdom.
"Thai people, like me, have probably not been happy for nine years, but since May 22, there is happiness," said the general, who laid out broad economic plans for the country.
He said a curfew could be relaxed in certain areas in a nod to fears that it was having a further negative effect on the key tourism industry.
Thailand's economy shrank 0.6% year-on-year in January-March due to falling consumer confidence and a slump in tourism as protests put off visitors.
Prayuth noted the international alarm over the coup, but said the country needed time to find a "righteous and legitimate" path for the country's democracy.
On Friday, the US rejected the general's election timetable.
State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington believed the best path forward was "to set a timeline for early elections and to facilitate an inclusive and transparent electoral process".
"There's no reason that they can't be held in the short term," she said.
On Thursday, the European Union's foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton voiced "extreme concern" over the situation in the country and said only a clear plan for a return to democracy could allow its "continuous support".
About 300 people had now been held for periods of up to seven days.
Key political figures were released this week, including former leaders Shinawatra and Abhisit Vejjajiva as well as protest leaders.
The regime warned that those released faced prosecution in a military court if they continued their political activism.
The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on Friday said there had been a "swift and serious deterioration of the human rights situation" in Thailand since the coup, citing the detentions.
"The imposition of martial law and the suspension of the constitution do not authorise Thailand's military junta to brazenly violate rights guaranteed under international law," said FIDH president Karim Lahidji.
Soldiers flooded a major Bangkok intersection on Friday in a show of strength against small-scale but vehement anti-coup protests.
Further rallies were expected over the weekend.


But not in England- you need a helmet...

He Liang rides his motorised suitcase
A farmer in China has invented a motorised suitcase which can reportedly carry your clothes and take you to the airport at the same time.
The contraption - with two small wheels at the back and one at the front - is the brainchild of He Liang, a farmer from Hunan Province, reports the Taiwan-based Want China Times. It can carry up to two passengers, cover distances of up to 60km (37 miles) and maintain a speed of up to 20km/h (12mph). It's powered by a rechargeable lithium battery and can be steered with handlebars when seated.
The special suitcase, which He has spent 10 years developing, is dubbed the City Cab. There is apparently just as much space to keep your clothes as with normal luggage and when it's empty it weighs just 7kg (15lb). The newspaper says City Cabs has now been patented as a multi-functional travel device, and He is hoping to see it on the road soon.

The World’s Most Affordable Cities

Moving overseas can seem like a costly proposition, at least with all the upfront expenses – but relocating to some cities can actually save you money in the long haul.
According to the March 2014 Worldwide Cost of Living Index, completed twice a year by the Economist Intelligence Unit, affordable cities can be found on almost every continent. The report compares prices of 160 goods and services, from cars to bread to wine, across 131 cities.
For reasons of geographical diversity – as well as to include cities whose international communities, career opportunities and levels of safety would particularly appeal to expats – we focused on what it would be like to live in five of the 10 cheapest cities on the Economist’s index. The other five, not detailed below, were Karachi, New Delhi, Damascus, Algiers and Riyadh. 
Mumbai, IndiaRanked 131 out of 131
The most affordable city on the Economist’s report, India’s most populated city is also one of its most diverse. When the Suez Canal was built in 1869, making Mumbai one of India’s primary trading ports, the city’s population exploded – particularly with merchants and settlers from Europe and Asia. As well as becoming a melting pot of different cultures, the metropolis developed into an epicentre for opportunity, particularly in business and in the film and fashion industries. 
    “If you have the drive and the talent, you can come from anywhere in the country or the world and make a name for yourself in Mumbai,” said Kaamna Bhowjwani-Dhawan, Mumbai native and founder of travel blog Momaboard. As a result, the city has a very work-hard, play-hard mentality, Bhowjwani-Dhawan said, with a vibrant social scene centred around the newest velvet-roped clubs and trendy bars. The social scene can be enjoyed relatively cheaply, too: movie tickets and cocktails cost half as much as they do in New York City and London, according to international price database Expatistan
    Other aspects of living in Mumbai are also relatively affordable. Public transportation and taxis run one-tenth the price of their New York or London counterparts, with an 8km taxi ride costing just 161 Indian rupees (the equivalent of $2.70 or £1.59). Service is cheap, too. “For under $1,000 [60,000 Indian rupees or £600] a month, you can hire a staff of a cook, a housekeeper and a chauffeur,” said Bhowjwani-Dhawan.
    Despite Mumbai being listed as the world’s most affordable city, many residents said they feel the housing costs can be prohibitively expensive; some younger residents cannot afford to move out on their own, despite good salaries. As a result, “many suburban areas which were considered far-flung have now become thickly populated,” said Deepa Krishnan, native resident and owner of Mumbai Magic Tours. In particular, the city has expanded to the north, where more affordable modern high-rise apartment complexes have emerged, complete with gyms and swimming pools.
    In South Mumbai, apartment buildings are smaller – only three to six storeys – with many built in the Victorian British Raj or Art Deco styles (in fact, Mumbai has the world’s largest concentration of Art Deco buildings outside of Miami). In West Mumbai, meanwhile, the suburb of Bandra attracts Bollywood movie stars and business owners to its individual bungalows. In Mumbai, 85sqm is 65,500 rupees (£660 or $1,105).
    Kathmandu, NepalRanked 127 out of 131
    As a gateway to the Himalaya Mountains, Kathmandu has a very outdoor-oriented culture. Not everyone is a Sherpa – but even office workers will often leave their desks to work outside in the sun. When not working, locals enjoy the always-growing restaurant scene or hanging out at the bars; by law, bars must close at midnight, so nightlife here gets started earlier.
      Housing and basics contribute to Kathmandu’s affordability. Bread costs 36 Nepali rupees ($0.37 or £0.22) for two people, a full restaurant lunch costs about 385 rupees ($4 or £2.39) and a litre of gas costs 141 rupees ($1.50 or £0.89). At an average of 34,000 rupees ($300 or £215) a month, rent for a 85sqm house is particularly affordable.
      Yet Kathmandu does not have a glut of high-rise apartment buildings, which is what often makes housing affordable in other regions. Instead, most residents live in single-family houses with more space and gardens. The older parts of the city, such as the districts of Thamel and Asan, have traditional architecture marked by detailed wood and stonework; newer areas like Kalamati have boxier, simpler homes. The wealthiest residents and foreigners tend to live in the new, gated communities popping up on the outskirts of the city and in the surrounding Kathmandu Valley.   
      The city caters to tourists and Western tastes, which can make it an expensive place to live for those who are not careful. “If you buy your food in the local market, eat out in local eateries and basically live like a Nepali, Kathmandu is very affordable,” said Zeljka Shah, who recently moved to the city from Croatia and writes The Roofs of Kathmandublog. “On the other hand, if you like to treat yourself to the typical Western food bought in grocery stores, and eat in Western-type restaurants, it’s quite pricey.” 
      Panama City, PanamaRanked 124 out of 131, tied with Bucharest
      Expats around the world are drawn to this Central American country for its mild climate and affordability. And even though residents often have six-day work weeks, they know how to relax when the time is right. “Close to paydays, bars and clubs come alive with partiers,” said Alex Hardy, an American expat who teaches in Panama City. Casco Viego and Calle Uruguay are favourite nightlife areas for their variety of venues, from backpacker bars to upscale lounges. The drinks come cheap too – about $2 for a beer and $9 for a cocktail, compared to $7 and $14 respectively in New York (Panama’s official currency is the US dollar, though it is called the balboa instead of dollar).
      A construction boom a few years ago has left the city with modern high-rise apartment complexes scattered among traditional, older buildings. “Newer apartment buildings tend to be big on amenities and ritz, but small on space,” Hardy said. “Apartments in older, smaller buildings tend to be far more spacious.” With a glut of unoccupied high-rise housing, rental costs remain reasonable in most parts of the city, including El Cangrejo in the centre. Housing runs about $2,500 per month for 85sqm.
      Recent public projects – including the revitalisation of the shoreline off Avenue Balboa in the Caldonia barrio(neighbourhood) – are giving the city an added energy. The Avenue Balboa area now has a promenade, park and activity centre, attracting residents from around the city on sunny days. “It’s a game changer for the city, with a legacy that will enrich people forever,” said Vicki Marie Stolsen, author ofThe Bachelor Chapters, who recently moved full-time to the neighbourhood from Seattle. “I love living across the street!”
      Locals also like how accessible the city and its neighbouring areas are with taxis and public transportation. “Taxis are cheap and plentiful, and trips on the Metrobus within the city are 25 cents,” Hardy said. “I can get to the cooler mountains or Caribbean beaches with clear water within two hours.” 
      Bucharest, RomaniaRanked 124 out of 131, tied with Panama City
      The capital city of Romania was once known as “Little Paris”, due to the French influence in its architecture and grand boulevards. Many historical buildings fell into disrepair when the communist regime took hold after World War II, but over the last decade there has been an increased effort toward restoration – particularly in the historic centre, where many of the older buildings have recently been renovated, and cafes and restaurants bustle with friends gathering for a night out.
      However, those that live in the city might be just as likely to find themselves in someone’s home for dinner. “You often get invited into the houses of people who you've just met a few days before and they will lay out the best for you regardless of their wealth,” said Andreea Francu, a Bucharest native who photographs the city on Bucharest Daily Photo. Residents pride themselves on their reputation for hospitality to both locals and foreigners alike. 
      Most locals live in high-rises that were developed during the communist regime, but “every Bucharestian dreams of living in a house and having a garden and a dog”, Francu said. The architecture is eclectic, with everything from ancient medieval buildings, to square utilitarian buildings, to Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau styles. Pipera, in the city’s north, is a particularly popular neighbourhood for expat families thanks to its American, British and French schools. Another quarter in central Bucharest, Tineretului, is desirable for its easy access to two major metro lines and to Tineretului Park, which has a large lake and a number of playgrounds. 
      The city remains more affordable than others in Western or Central Europe: housing costs 80% less than London (about 2,832 lei, $873 or £521, for a 85sqm space), and monthly public transportation costs 90% less than London (56 lei for a monthly ticket, vs $1.85 or £10).
      Jeddah, Saudi ArabiaRanked 123 out of 131
      Many visitors to Jeddah are on pilgrimages to Mecca. Those who stay longer, however, find the city to be affordable – and to have a unique blend of conservative and modern. Saudi Arabia’s religious laws inform much of the city’s culture and social interactions: technically, single men and women are not allowed to mix together, so restaurants separate the family and single sections from the men sections. But at night the city comes alive, with diners heading out to restaurants and men bringing out their fancy cars for drives around downtown.
        Many social gatherings also happen in the family homes, so it’s key to make local friends. “When you enter a Saudi house, you are greeted with Arabic coffee and dates,” said Lyn Birrell, who emigrated from Bicton, Western Australia and writes the blog Living in Jeddah. Social status is very important here, so even typical, two-storey houses are often furnished with crystal chandeliers and gold-trimmed furniture.
        Despite the interior decorations, Jeddah is an affordable city to live in. Gasoline prices are some of the world’s lowest in the world, costing just 0.50 riyal ($0.15 or £0.08) for a litre of gas (compared to $1.05 in New York City). Housing and food also come cheap: rent costs 3,797 riyal ($1,012 or £601) for 85sqm and bread costs 2.24 riyal ($0.60 or £0.35). But foodies and chefs, beware: produce is not as plentiful as in other parts of the world. “We do not have the variety of vegetables and fruit here as in Australia, which took a bit of getting used to. They eat a lot of coriander, parsley, mint, saffron and herbs,” Birrell said.
        On the other hand, crafty residents can take advantage of the other cheap goods on sale. Birrell sews, for example, and said that beautiful fabric and material can be purchased quite cheaply, making clothing costs very affordable. Travellers can take advantage of cheap flights to nearby destinations too: roundtrip airfare to cities like Dubai and Cairo can be booked for less than 1,200 riyal ($300 or £190). 

        Fredo and Pid'jin

        It’s complicated

        Not This Year

        The leader of Thailand's military coup has said elections will not be held for more than a year, to allow time for political reconciliation and reform.
        In a televised address, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha called on all sides to co-operate and stop protesting.
        He repeated warnings against any resistance to the military.
        The Thai army seized power on 22 May, and detained senior politicians for several days saying stability had to be restored after months of unrest.
        In his first public address since the coup, Gen Prayuth said: "The (ruling military regime) have a timeframe of one year and three months to move towards elections,
        "Enough time has been wasted on conflict."
        Gen Prayuth said a first phase of about three months would focus on "reconciliation" with a cabinet and new draft constitution put in place.
        Reforms would then be introduced over a second, year-long, period and only after this could elections be held.
        Thai army seals off part of Bangkok. 30 May 2014The Thai army is maintaining a high profile to prevent further protests in Bangkok
        "Give us time to solve the problems for you. Then the soldiers will step back to look at Thailand from afar," he added.
        Gen Prayuth has previously warned that if protests continued he would have no choice but to use force.
        In his address he repeated the warnings, saying resistance would only slow the process of bringing "happiness" back to the Thai people.
        Also on Friday, hundreds of troops sealed off a major Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour to prevent a possible protest.
        Thailand's military stepped in after six months of political deadlock as protesters tried to oust the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
        People injured from grenade attack during rally in Bangkok. 17 January 2014 Many have been killed or injured over the course of the protests
        At least 28 people were killed and several hundred injured over the course of the protests.
        Since taking power the military has summoned and detained dozens of key political figures, including Ms Yingluck. She has been released but remains under some restrictions.
        Journalists and academics are also among those who have been called in.
        On Monday the coup leaders received royal endorsement. However, the military's actions in removing an elected government has drawn widespread international criticism.
        The current deadlock dates from 2006, when the military ousted Ms Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in a coup.
        Both have strong support in rural and northern areas, propelling them to successive election wins.
        However, many in the middle class and urban elite, who comprise the heart of the anti-government movement that began in November 2013, oppose them bitterly.


        American foreign interference.  Ggrr...

        Where's John?

        The US defence secretary has accused China of "destabilising" the South China Sea, saying its action threatened the region's long-term progress.

        Chuck Hagel said the US would "not look the other way" when nations ignored international rules.

        He also urged Thailand's coup leaders to restore democratic rule soon, calling on the coup authorities to release those it had detained and immediately to hold free and fair elections.

        My Photo

        Again we have words of wisdom from people who just can't keep their beak out.  How about cleaning up your own back yard first?


        St Mary's Church is the most ambiguous term on Wikipedia.

        Petrol Pump Tips

        As summer approaches, millions of holiday-makers will soon take to the world’s highways. Owing to the laws of supply and demand, the increase in vehicles invariably causes a spike in fuel prices.
        It prompted us to visit, the online question and answer community, to find out how users get the most out of every tank of gas. Not every respondent had the same approach, but most had simple tips that could keep a driver on the road longer between fill-ups.
        Light makes right
        Alex Elderfield noted that excess weight prevents an engine from burning fuel efficiently. "Only carry what is essential in your car, clean out any junk or necessary items otherwise you are paying for the fuel to cart these from place to place," he wrote.
        Driving smoothly – that is, not mashing the gas and then slamming the brakes later down the road – was a fixture of many responses. That advice resonated with Quora userClint Law, who wrote, "Every little bit of kinetic energy that your brakes dissipate, your engine burned in fuel to [amass]." Excessive braking should consequently be viewed as squandered acceleration. "That's really what kills your fuel economy," he argued.
        Keep the pressure up
        Maintaining the recommended tire pressure for your car was another mantra among Quora users.
        Marlyn Rosent said she checked her tire pressure every time she filled up her SUV. "I put new caps on that let me measure air pressure [without] unscrewing the little buggers," she wrote.
        Quora user Doug Dingus checks his tire pressure every weekend. "Less tire contact means reduced friction, requiring less fuel," he said.
        Air conditioning v windows
        Though the summer heat prompts many drivers to roll up the windows and crank the air conditioning, some respondents argued that running the A/C wastes too much gas. In between were many shades of grey.
        Achilleas Vortselas said it would depend largely on a car’s speed. He wrote that as a general rule, people should drive with the windows down around the city and turn the air conditioning on when hitting the highway, where a car’s aerodynamic attributes would be compromised by opened windows.
        More ascetically minded respondents, however, said to travel as much as possible with windows up and A/C off.Eddie Xue gets by with just a wisp of outside air. “Use the fan and crack your windows every now and then at lower speeds," he wrote.
        But Jonathan Drake says there's balance between air conditioning and windows usage, and referenced the Mythbusters television series as his source. He argues that when a car approaches higher speeds, the A/C should come on. "This isn't super-technical, but Mythbusters visited this question twice. In their second attempt, they found that the break-even point was 50mph," he wrote.
        Fuel efficiency, straight from source
        Given the variety of opinions out there – some of which can smack of hunches rather than hard science – we cross-referenced Quora users’ suggestions with recommendations from ExxonMobil. As it turns out, many Quora users were spot on.
        Exxon contends that reducing the weight in your car by 100lbs can increase the vehicle's fuel economy by up to 2%. Tire pressure also plays a critical important role. Dialling in proper tire pressure once a month can increase fuel economy by up to 3%, according to Exxon.
        When it comes to smooth driving and braking, Quora users were right again. "Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gasoline,” Exxon noted. “It can lower your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town."
        And as for driving with the windows down or using the A/C, Exxon recommends rolling those windows up and turning on the air conditioning at speeds of 60mph or greater, which reduces aerodynamic drag.
        Of course, intrepid summer motorists can always practice “hypermiling” – a discipline that champions extraordinary driving techniques in the name of returning gaudy gas mileage. Even if you go that route, there’s no need for guilt when blasting that A/C (at least on the highway).

        Versace Vomit

        Fancy this Versace World Cup T-shirt? That'll be £410, please

        "To celebrate the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Donatella Versace has created a special t-shirt that combines the passions of football with the vivid iconography of the Versace DNA.

        A brand new Versace baroque print is created using the colors of a Brazilian carnival, decorated with repeated images footballs and flowers.

        Gold chains and leopard print add luxury, while silhouettes of football players connect the glamour of Versace with the sportsmanship of Brazil.

        At the heart of the t-shirt is the iconic Medusa head, with a special Versace rock twist."

        And just think, all for a bargain £410...

        Mile High Curry

        From the outside, it looks like any old retired passenger aeroplane sitting on the tarmac of an airfield, but inside it’s a fully functioning Indian restaurant where people who love a curry now have the perfect venue.

        The brainchild of pilot Mustafa Azim Aolad and chef Mofuh Miah, this unique plane restaurant is currently parked at Bruntingthorpe Airfield in Lutterworth, Leicestershire.

        The restaurant based in the Vickers VC10 plane will not take off, but diners will have a full view of the airfield in action while tucking into their naan bread and poppadoms.

        The plane is a guinea pig for the two entrepreneurs who are hoping that, if it lifts off, they will open five more aeroplane eateries around the midlands.

        Same Old, Same Old

        Arsehole Whinger extends his contract with The Arse for another three years.

        I have almost warmed up to him (but not too much as he is still the myopic Mr Magoo of the pitch) since Maureen has become the biggest whinging brat on the block, so wish him luck.  It seems some managers can stay in their roles past a month without winning any silverware and that deserves to be recognised.

        What Tosh

        The head of the charity, Homeless FA has said:

        "We prefer to use the term 'people experiencing homelessness' rather than 'homeless people,' so it doesn't sound like an ailment."

        My Photo

        Then they should perhaps follow their own advice and call themselves FA Homelessness?  What a load of bollocks, really.



        Still To Sort

        England's World Cup preparations move to Miami on Sunday after Friday's 3-0 friendly win against Peru at Wembley.
        The final scoreline was comfortable enough, with goals from Daniel Sturridge, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka helping to disguise the fact that some aspects of the performance were unconvincing.
        So what questions will manager Roy Hodgson be pondering ahead of the two warm-up games against Ecuador and Honduras in the United States?

        Can Rooney and Sturridge excel together?

        Wayne Rooney's form and selection is shaping up as a major part of the narrative of England's World Cup build-up. Is he still the automatic choice he has been for England over the last decade?
        It seems no lead-up to a major tournament is complete without a forensic examination of Rooney's form and fitness - and Brazil will be no different.
        The court of social media was alive with criticism of Rooney's performance in his 65 minutes against Peru but this was wildly out of context with the reality of his current situation.
        The Manchester United striker has been sidelined for more than a month with a groin injury and underwent his own personal fitness regime in Portugal before joining the rest of the squad, such is his determination finally to make an impact on a major tournament.
        This was always going to be a game where he eased his way back in and got some minutes under his belt as part of the preparation process.
        Rooney was enthusiastic but his touch was a little heavy and he spent long periods on the margins of the game. This, however, was to be expected after his spell out and was purely the next part of the plan to have him in peak condition to face Italy on 14 June.
        A more pertinent question will be how Hodgson can get Rooney to dovetail with his fellow striker Daniel Sturridge in a workable strike partnership, but all the noises from the manager suggest he will start with Rooney in Manaus.
        The next fortnight will shape that decision but surely criticism of Rooney is premature given his lack of match sharpness, which will be honed further over the next week in Miami.

        Should Sterling start?

        Liverpool's Raheem Sterling
        There was some surprise at Wembley that Liverpool's Raheem Sterling, 19, was not given a start against Peru, with Manchester United's Danny Welbeck getting the nod from Hodgson.
        Hodgson is a fan of Welbeck, who has delivered for him in the past, but Sterling's introduction in the second half added pace and an ability to run with the ball that England required. He is a more naturally dynamic attacker than the rangy, willing Welbeck.
        Welbeck is the more experienced of the pair and has been useful for his versatility in attack but Hodgson must decide whether the mobile, pacy Sterling is more suited to starting in Brazil, or whether he may make a greater impact coming off the bench as a substitute.
        Sterling does not lack confidence and whatever route Hodgson chooses will not faze this player of huge promise. He could be a potent weapon for England in Brazil.
        Welbeck, on the other hand, is trusted by Hodgson for the strength of past performances and it may just be that counts in the final reckoning.

        Who should partner Gerrard in central midfield?

        Jordan Henderson
        Steven Gerrard is the fulcrum of England's team. The midfield mainstay, leader and captain is respected by the rest of the World Cup squad heading to Brazil.
        What Hodgson must decide is who plays alongside him. Gerrard's Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson got first crack against Peru at Wembley, fully deserved on the back of a superb season doing a similar job at Anfield.
        There is a sense, however, that this place is still up for grabs and Jack Wilshere's lively cameo suggested he believes he is the man who can keep the debate going.
        Henderson was not quite his energetic self against Peru but his outstanding natural fitness, as well as plenty of ability and his understanding with the 34-year-old Gerrard, may appeal to Hodgson in the testing South American conditions.
        Wilshere is the more creative player but has suffered a string of injury problems. He will need to press his case against Ecuador and Honduras to push Henderson out of the side.
        Everton's Ross Barkley is the brilliant young wildcard but with the likes of Rooney, Adam Lallana, Sterling and others vying for positions in midfield and attack, he may have to produce something very special to start.
        Those who have observed Barkley regularly, however, know he is capable of doing exactly that.

        Can England's defence cope with world's best?

        Glen Johnson competes for the ball
        England may be well blessed with an outstanding goalkeeper in Joe Hart, as well as resources in midfield and attack - but will their defence prove a weakness in Brazil?
        They conceded only four goals in 10 undefeated games in qualifying for the World Cup, but the feeling lingers that they may be vulnerable to attacking play of the highest quality. England must certainly deal better with runners from deep.
        And at Wembley on Friday there was the odd lapse in concentration that allowed Peru a chance or two. Common sense suggests Hodgson and his defence will be working on this in the next fortnight to be completely match sharp by the time their World Cup campaign kicks off. They can also point to that impressive record in qualifying.
        Central defenders Cahill and Jagielka were on the scoresheet, while left-back Leighton Baines produced two corners that led to goals. Glen Johnson, however, was sloppy and can do a lot better.
        Peru presented very average opposition but still had opportunities. The better players England will face in Brazil - particularly the likes of Uruguay pairing Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez and Italian maverick Mario Balotelli - may not be as generous.

        Team Eng-er-land Win

        OK, Peru at home is not going to be too taxing but many teams will perhaps get stage fright with all the attention of the media and they did a good job by winning 3 - 0.

        It will be interesting to see how they fare against stronger opposition.

        Letters of Note

        Back in 1979, when such a feat actually carried some weight, Art Garfunkel's song Bright Eyes spent six consecutive weeks at the top of the UK Singles Chartafter featuring on the soundtrack to the movie adaptation of the novel Watership Down. As a result of seemingly endless airplay, the song gripped the nation and became the country's biggest seller of the year. One person who clearly didn't buy a copy was the author of Watership Down, Richard Adams, who sent this note toAndrew Watkins in July of that year.

        Note: 'Shardik' was Adams' next book.   


        To Andrew Watkins

        Many thanks for your super letter.

        I HATE "Bright Eyes"!

        I'm very glad you like "Shardik", lots of people don't.

        I think to walk 20 miles at your age is marvellous.

        Yours sincerely

        Richard Adams
        Letters of Note

        All Available- 2

        Ying-Yang Fish

        Ying-Yang Fish
        The Ying-Yang fish, also known as the dead-or-alive fish, involves taking a whole live carp and frying it while somehow keeping it alive so that it makes it to the plate cooked, but still breathing. This dish is the most controversial on our list because many condemn the practice as unnecessary cruelty. After hearing descriptions that once the fish is on the plate, a customer can enjoy its body meat while actually watching the fish open and close its mouth while gasping for air, we have to agree. 

        You might have a rough time finding a restaurant that will serve you this rare dish. It is banned from restaurants in Taiwan, though some unscrupulous eateries in China will still allow Ying-Yang fish to be part of their menu. (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)

        Tuna Eyeballs

        Tuna Eyeballs
        This food is definitely the worst to look at. While others on our list conceal the nasty ingredients somewhat, this dish contains a completely intact tuna eyeball and is definitely not for those with weak stomachs. 

        You can find tuna eyeballs easily at any grocery store in China or Japan. If you see a huge, single eyeball surrounded by tuna fat and muscles, you've found what you're looking for. 

        At restaurants the dish is prepared by boiling and seasoning the entire eyeball. Fans of tuna eyeballs rave about their tastiness and compare them in texture and flavor to squid. In fact, many say that the fish muscles and fat surrounding the eyeball is the most delicious part of this dish. Well, let's just take their word for it!(Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)

        Escamole Insect Caviar

        Escamole Insect Caviar
        This allegedly tasty dish is a staple in many Mexican restaurants. It is essentially ant larva, which is harvested from the roots of the agave plant. Typically referred to as "insect caviar," the flavor and texture of this dish has been likened to cottage cheese. 

        Though we gave pause, we've got to admit that insect caviar isn't too terrible to look at. In fact, these light-colored insect eggs look a lot like pine nuts or white corn kernels. The flavor is supposed to be pretty enjoyable – it has been described as having a poppy-esque texture, accompanied by a nutty aftertaste. 

        This dish can be served in many ways – fried or thrown in as a garnish with omelets and tacos. (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)

        Birds Nest Soup

        Birds Nest Soup
        A delicacy in Asia, birds nest soup involves taking the nest of a swiftlet and throwing the entire nest (which might even include the bird and/or bird eggs) into a deep fryer. After frying the nest to a crisp, it's then immersed in a chicken stock.

        Enjoying this strange delicacy means that you will be ingesting a fair amount of bird saliva, which is used as a glue by swiftlets to hold their nests together. (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)

        Drunken Shrimp

        Drunken Shrimp
        This Chinese delicacy makes our list because it requires you to eatliving shrimp! 

        Drunken shrimp are fresh water shrimp which are rendered paralyzed by a liquor mix, so that they can be consumed alive and with ease. Gross right? 

        You'll be surprised to know that this dish can be found on the menus of restaurants across China. In fact, different regions of the country have their own unique take on the drunken shrimp recipe. 

        While all drunken shrimp recipes involve the use of the baijiu liqour to stun the shrimp, some people treat the shrimp with liqueur first, and then boil them, as opposed to serving them live. Others cook the shrimp and then marinate them in the liquor. 

        Many people liken the flavor to that of cooked shrimp, but with a raw, rich flavor and stronger aftertaste.(Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)