Monday, 31 August 2015

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Typical Balls Up

The 5p charge on plastic bags to be introduced in October faces accusations that it will confuse customers - and doubtless lead to arguments at the checkout.

The charge is being introduced as part of a government policy to reduce waste by cutting bag use by up to 80 per cent in supermarkets and by half on the high street, with the aim of reducing litter and protecting wildlife.

The new rules are likely to baffle shoppers and cashiers alike, as till operators will be the ones to decide whether the charge must be paid.

But before they charge you, they have to ensure the bag ‘qualifies’ as a bag.

The government has issued guidelines defining what a plastic carrier bag is: it must be made of plastic, be unused, have handles and be 70 microns thick or less.

Cashiers must then check if the items in your shopping qualify for a free plastic bag.

Guidelines issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) note that you can receive a free plastic bag if your shopping includes items from a long list of exemptions, including: uncooked fish, meat and poultry products, unwrapped blades and “live aquatic creatures in water”.

Also included are flowers, bulbs, potatoes and prescription drugs.

The exemptions also apply to unwrapped food for human or animal consumption, such as chips and food sold in containers that could leak.

However, if even one non-exempt item is placed in the bag, cashiers must charge 5p.

The guidelines explain: “For example, you wouldn’t charge for a bag containing an unwrapped blade and unwrapped loose seeds, but adding a box of cornflakes means you’d have to charge.”

As comical as it sounds, the new charge could have serious consequences: retailers who fail to detect shoppers who need to pay for their plastic bags could face fines of up to £5,000 if they are caught by local authority inspectors.

In another confusing twist, shop owners with fewer than 250 employees are not required to charge for their bags.

Shops are “required to make every effort to ensure that you’re charging for self-checkout bags”.

Well Done

Borussia Dortmund invited 220 refugees to its game on Thursday night - more than the number of Syrians who have been welcomed to the UK through the government's official refugee relocation scheme.
The German club invited the newcomers to their Europa League match against Norwegian side Odds Ballklubb on Thursday evening as part of the "angekommen" initiative which helps refugees resettle in the city.
Pictures of the group watching the game were shared on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #RefugeesWelcome, which has been used before by the club's fans as well as at pro-refugee demonstrations across Germany.
To date, Germany has welcomed more refugees than any other country in Europe and chancellor Angela Merkel announced last week that the country would start allowing refugees to remain there even if they had first arrived in another EU country.
In comparison, by the end of June, the British government's Vulnerable Person Relocation scheme had invited just 187 Syrian refugees since being launched by Theresa May in January 2014. The government says it has granted asylum to more than 4,000 Syrians who have arrived through other means since the humanitarian crisis started there. There are thought to have been 6.5 million people displaced by the war in Syria.
Dormtund's move on Thursday was not the first time a German football club has shown solidarity with refugees. In April, we reported on the 300 who were given free tickets by Dynamo Dresden, and others have been sharing photographs of several clubs whose fans have flown welcoming banners at their games.

21st Century Hip

Not a headline I ever thought I'd read:

Tesco to sell latest Iron Maiden album The Book of Souls in vinyl format

More at TG

Takes all Sorts

Asking for help with a Great British Bake Off dish and trying to answer a crossword clue about a James Bond villain are just two of the quirky calls received by council call centres in the last year.
The Local Government Association (LGA) revealed some of the bizarre queries taken by the customer service hubs, which handle more than 50m calls each year.

The LGA’s top 10 bizarre calls

 Do you know how much water I need to cook super noodles? (Stevenage borough council)
 What are the rules and regulations for hosting a mouse race? (Somerset county council)
 Can I exercise my kestrel on your tip? (Nottinghamshire county council)
 A call from an elderly lady asking for help on her crossword - James Bond’s cat-loving nemesis, seven letters, begins with B? (Staffordshire county council)
 What is the daily room rate at the Holiday Inn express? (Stevenage borough council)
What size tin is required for the Mary Berry strawberry tart featured on the BBC’s Great British Bake Off? (Somerset county council)
 I met a boy while on holiday in Ibiza but I’ve lost his number. He said he lived in Nottingham and his dad is a bin man. Do you know him? (Nottinghamshire county council)
 How many geese are on the boating lake in Cleethorpes this year? (The caller wanted to visit but had an allergy to feathers – North East Lincolnshire council)
 What time does your website close? (Poole borough council)
 How high is Mount Kilimanjaro? (Somerset county council)


Support is still needed to help boost the British beer industry, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), with total sales down 2.4% in the past 12 months.

beer-beer-garden-drink-18621According to the BBPA’s Beer Barometer, in the 12 months to June off-trade beer sales in the UK dipped by 1.9%, and in the on-trade by 2.9%.
For Q2, total sales were 5.6% lower compared to the same period last year, with an early easter and the impact of the World Cup 2014, which boosted sales in the same quarter last year, resulting in disappointing beer sales.
Brigid Simmonds, BBPA Chief Executive said: “While we may see a bounce back in Q3, these latest figures give no room for complacency, and show that more action is needed on beer duty.
“The Chancellor has made a great start, with his three, one penny cuts, but with inflation very low, and an industry still experiencing the impact of the 42% rise under the previous Government’s escalator policy there is no doubt that more action is need to create a more sustainable future for Britain’s national drink.”
Despite a dip in sales, there are positive signs of growth in the British beer industry. Earlier this month it was reported that beer trademarks in the UK had increased by 12% in the past year, indicating an ongoing growth of craft beer brands and new products entering the market.
In 2013, the number of beer trademark requests being granted totalled 1,331. This rose to 1,485 in 2014, and it is expected to rise again at an even higher rate this year.


Fun Facts That You're Going To Learn Today (35 Photos)

FAO Julie

Not sure where the first instalment is but still a good piece from the GG:

Scrabble France Thai Britain America
Today I have the second part of my visit to the North American Scrabble championships. If you missed part one, it’s Grammar Girl episode 477 from August 13, so you can find it at iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts, but this week, the co-president of the North American Scrabble Players Association, John Chew is going to tell us how people win Scrabble tournaments when they don’t even speak the language, what some of the tricks are that Scrabble masters use to memorize words, how Scrabble is played differently in other countries, why it would be extra cool to go to Thailand to play, what one thing you should focus on if you want to be a better player, and finally how you can compete in the national championship—it’s not as hard as you may think, but it requires mental focus.

Playing Scrabble When You Don't Speak the Language

FOGARTY: There was a lot of buzz at the champions because a rock star player named Nigel Richards, an English speaker, had just won the French world championship—after studying the French word list for just a few months—but it’s actually not a new thing for people to play Scrabble in foreign languages. Here’s John Chew.
CHEW: It’s not the first time that anyone has done this. I believe a Frenchman has won the Spanish world championship, and more than one Thai player has won the English language world championship with very little spoken fluency in English, but certainly the ability to memorize a large number of words in a foreign language . . . it’s interesting playing some Thai players because their approach to the English language is very different from native speakers, and there’s something very alien about it.
FOGARTY: What he means is that foreign players need to study the English word list efficiently—to optimize their mental effort—so they study the good Scrabble words, not everyday English words. So foreign players often don’t know common English words like hitch.
CHEW: No native speaker of English would ever challenge the word hitch in a Scrabble game, but that would be the sort of word that a non-native player might easily challenge because when you study words systematically, to optimize the mental effort of studying word, you study the words that are going to be most useful. The odds of actually playing the word hitch in a Scrabble game are very low because there are only two H's in the bag. You’d need to have both of them and one of the two C’s, so their type of play tends to be, very Scrabbly, because you get a lot of Scrabble words, and you don’t get eight- and nine-letter words that are everyday words away from the Scrabble board but are almost never played in Scrabble. 

Tricks for Memorizing Scrabble Words

FOGARTY: So how do people study these words lists? It’s all about memorization, so what are their memorization techniques? Stefan Fatsis—you remember him from the Scrabble episode a few weeks ago; he’s the guy who wrote the book Word Freak—he uses free training software put out by NASPA called Zyzzava, but other top players have devised their own methods.
CHEW: There’s one former world champion named David Bois who came up with his buddy system for learning words. He takes each word and assigns it a buddy in the dictionary. It’s a word that reminds him of the other word, and it’s like when you’re in kindergarten and you’re holding hands with your buddy on a field trip. You’re far less likely to lose two kindergarten kids or two words from your vocabulary than you are to lose one. So I don’t know if he still uses that, but I know he hasn’t lost any of his three kids, so there’s probably something. 
Another champions named Joel Wapnick has a page-based system. 
FOGARTY: John is going to mention alphagrams next. The word was coined by Joe Edley and Jim Homan, and it’s when you take all the letters in a word and rearrange them so they’re in alphabetical order. The alphagram for the word car is acr—you’ve rearranged the letters C A R so they are in alphabetical order. A comes first, C comes second, and R comes third. Here’s an example of a longer alphagram that contains seven common letters that can make nine different seven-letter words: A-E-I-R-N-S-T:
CHEW: Those seven letters, A E I R N S T, you can make any of the nine seven-letter words. anestriantsiernastierratinesretainsretinasretsinastainerstearin. There are different techniques. 
FOGARTY: Back to Joel Wapnick’s method for memorizing words.
CHEW: He doesn’t use pure alphagrams; he takes all the vowels first and puts them at the beginning of the alphagram and then all the consonants, and sorts them separately alphabetically, which kind of ... I can see why he does that because vowels and consonants are different in the way they interact, and it’s good to know how many vowels and consonants you have in a word, so he takes all of those possible pseudoalphagrams and prints them out in alphabetical order and then, a certain number, like 200, to a page, and then he sits down and memorizes them page by page. 

A Way of Thinking That Will Improve Your Scrabble Score

FOGARTY: Let’s say you don’t want to memorize 90,000 words. Let’s say you’ve just memorized the two-letter words, and the good Q-words, and you want to get a little better. Here’s John’s advice.
CHEW: When you’re playing Scrabble seriously, there’s strategy to it as well as word knowledge. And the most important aspect of strategy is to plan ahead. Even a casual player, if they’ve played enough, should have developed some sense as to what’s going to happen when they put a word on the board. Is their opponent going to be able to easily respond to that? Are they setting themselves up for a bigger play the next turn? And so I always tell people if they want to know how to increase their Scrabble scores, after you learn the basic tools of the lexicon, what you should really do is instead of thinking what’s my highest scoring play, or worse, what is the prettiest word I can make with these tiles, you should think, what can I do now that will see me ahead by the largest number of points after my next turn. Not the turn that I’m making, but think about the turn that you make right now, and the tiles you are going to keep, and how your current turn contributes to your opponent’s reply, and how the tiles you are keeping on your rack are going to affect your scoring opportunities on your next turn, and that’s about as far as you need to look in most situations, unless you’re playing in the top division at the National Scrabble championship, and that will help you get ahead of your friends.

Scrabble in France

FOGARTY: Because we had been talking about Nigel Richards winning the French Scrabble tournament, it came up that Scrabble is played completely differently in France, which was a big surprise to me. I thought it would be the same everywhere, but cultural differences come into play.
CHEW: But when French people play Scrabble they play a very different version of the game. In addition to it being in French, they also play what they call duplicate Scrabble, which I usually describe to my competitive Scrabble playing friends as being closer to bingo than Scrabble. One aspect of the game of Scrabble that people have agonized over ever since the game was invented was the tension between skill and luck in the game. And I think it’s just where it needs to be. It’s the sort of game where the more you study the luckier you get, and someone who is skilled can beat a less skilled opponent most of the time, but not all the time.  So that gives the weaker opponent a chance to play, a reason to play. 
The French on the other hand, for the most part didn’t like the aspect of luck, they wanted to make it purely a skill-based game. Their duplicate game is everyone playing the same game of solitaire Scrabble, with one person, like a bingo master, drawing out tiles and announcing to everybody which tiles are we going to use, and everybody has a few minutes to make the best play they can make. And they score their own plays, but then the everybody’s board gets updated with the play that the director instructs, which is usually the highest scoring play. And it’s a very unforgiving game for people who don’t have perfect word knowledge or perfect board vision. And most English language players find it tedious after trying it once because what they really like is the head to head competition and the camaraderie that comes with it. 

Scrabble in Britain

FOGARTY: Another interesting difference is how challenges are handles by British and American players. 
CHEW: There are cultural differences though, that historically led to the British having a different rule for challenges than the Americans did. The British said, if you make a word and it’s no good, then if your opponent catches you, it comes off the board. If your opponent thinks the word you made is no good, they can check at no penalty, and there is no penalty, because it wouldn’t be right, it wouldn’t be fair, for you to try to bluff your opponent into getting away with a word that is no good; whereas for Americans, bluffing in poker is their lifeblood. They think, no-no, there should be what we call the double challenge rule: when you make a challenge in American scrabble, one player is going to lose their turn—either the challenger or the challengee. 

Scrabble in Thailand

FOGARTY: And if you think those differences are interesting, you’ll love this. Scrabble is a big deal in Thailand. It’s taught in all the schools and the king backs a royal Scrabble tournament every year. When I mentioned Thailand to people I met at the championships, their eyes lit up, and everyone I talked to hoped to make it there some day if they hadn’t already.
CHEW: In fact everybody who has any interest in Scrabble or pomp and pageantry too should come to Thailand for the King’s Cup tournament in July each year. But, in Thailand, Scrabble is part of the school system, it’s taught as an activity, as a way to study English, from I think the kindergarten level all the way up to the college level, and it’s got major corporate sponsorship. The minister of education recognizes it as a worthwhile course of study, and all of the top competitions have royal patronage. The King’s Cup is named because the king donated a trophy and a prize fund to go with it. It’s a big deal there. 
When I go to Thailand for the King’s Cup tournament, of those 10,000 people playing under one roof, of those 10,000 people about 100 are adults playing at an elite level and the rest of them are kids up to about high school age, and it’s a good balance because the kids are all excited to be competing at the same activity that they see world champions competing at, and they’ll run up to you and ask you for your autograph, and at the same time it keeps the adult players on their good behavior, and they realize that these kids are the future of things, and that’s the way any sort of long-term sustainable healthy competitive activity has to be.
FOGARTY: While I’m dreaming of going to the King’s Cup someday, the North American championship seems a little more within reach. I had thought it would be hard to make it there, but they actually have different categories so you don’t have to be the best in the world to play. 
CHEW: It’s actually relatively easy to come here. The only thing we insist is that you can’t play in the National Championship as your first tournament. You have to have had at least one tournament experience before, for two reasons. One is we need to know how strong you are to know which rating division to put you in, we don’t want you to be the world’s strongest player but who has never played in a tournament before. 
FOGARTY: The other reason they want you to have played in a tournament before is because they want you to know what you’re getting into—it’s a mental marathon. At the North American Scrabble championship, they play seven hours a day for five days straight. It’s like taking the SAT twice a day for a whole week, and this isn’t even the most grueling tournament.
I hope I’ve inspired some of you to try to up your game or even compete, and I hope you liked these special episodes, but if not, we’re going back to our regular format next week, so thanks for sticking wi.


The Vietnamese government is locking horns with the family of the man who wrote the country's national anthem, in a dispute over royalties.

The Culture Ministry has told a music copyright agency to stop collecting royalties on "Tien quan ca" ("The Marching Song"), which has been the country's anthem since 1976, and of North Vietnam before that. The family of composer Nguyen Van Cao, who died in 1995, registered the song with the Vietnam Centre for Protection of Music Copyright last week, and are demanding royalties for all public performances except in schools and "important state ceremonies", Thanh Nien newspaper reports.


Good News

A total of 19 British pubs built during the First and Second World Wars have been granted listed status by the UK government following a project by Historic England to identify and protect inter-war pubs.

The new listings follow Historic England’s work into identifying best surviving examples of pubs built between the First and Second World Wars. Around 3,000 pubs were built during this time (1918-1939) but very few are still standing as pubs today.

Of the 21 listed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, six are old Truman’s Brewery pubs including The Royal Oak, The Rose and Crown, the Golden Heart, The Stag’s Head, The Duke of Edinburgh and The Station.

James Morgan, CEO of Truman’s Brewery said: “We are delighted that Historic England have recognised the value of these amazing pubs. Truman’s built palaces for the people, a home away from home, for all to enjoy. They are pinnacles of an era, which inspire us as a business to this day, and will now never be forgotten thanks to their hard work.”

During the inter-war period Truman’s built over 150 pubs across England, many designed by the celebrated architect A E Sewell. Among them was the Royal Oak near the famous Columbia Road Flower market in Hoxton, known as an “early pub” because it serves market traders from 9am on Sundays. Buit in 1923, it is a sought-after filming location and was used as the backdrop in the BBC’s Goodnight Sweetheart and British gangster film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The pubs, most listed at Grade II and one upgraded to II*, are much loved local landmarks shaped by the “improved pub” movement that followed the First World War. Between 1918 and 1939 breweries across the country rebuilt thousands of pubs, spurred on by the need to appeal beyond their usual male clientele and leave behind the image of drunkenness associated with Victorian and Edwardian pubs.

Heritage Minister Tracey Crouch said: “These inter-war pubs are more than a slice of living history, they play an intrinsic role in English culture and our local communities. I’m delighted that these pubs and their fascinating history have been protected for generations to enjoy for years to come.”

Other pubs to gain listed status include The Black Horse in Birmingham, built in 1929, the Berkeley hotel in Scunthorpe, built in 1940, and the Duke William in Stoke-on-Trent, rebuilt in 1929.

Emily Gee, Head of Listing at Historic England said: “This national project, the first of its kind, has surveyed the increasingly threatened and much loved inter-war public house, allowing us to identify, understand and protect the most special examples. And what better way to champion the best of our locals than by raising a pint glass to these architectural beacons of English community life now celebrated on the National Heritage List.”

Chicks Cost Extra

A NEW Tinder-style phone app is helping people find compatible daytime drinking partners.
‘Snifter’ allows users to share their profiles with like-minded people who just want to get nicely drunk before five o’clock.
Tom Logan, from Stevenage, said: “I was having a day off and was in the mood for a proper afternoon session, but all my friends were at work.
“I went on Snifter and found a bloke in a pub near me who had similar interests and really enjoyed getting pissed in the afternoon, so I sent him a ‘sniff’, which is an emoticon in the shape of a pint.
“Twenty minutes later we were happily getting pissed together. No romance, no friendship. Just two blokes getting hammered during the day.”
Snifter’s designer Stephen Malley said: “You can tailor it so white wine drinkers can hook-up and split the cost of the bottles. Real Ale fans can get comfy next to the fire and then forget each other’s names.
“And you can add a ‘frowny face’ emoticon to pubs that refuse to serve you because you’re so drunk.”

Viz Bits


Circle of Life

Everyone knows that no truly awesome castle is complete without a moat. These long, broad ditches, which may or may not be filled with water, mostly served to protect against marauding invaders, although some also helped stabilize buildings, and still others were just status symbols—the medieval equivalent of imported sports cars lining your driveway. While England is said to have 5,000 moats alone, they're also found in Africa, Japan, Asia, and elsewhere, protecting fortresses, temples, and towns as well as castles. Read on for ten amazing moats that you can still see. 


The world's largest palace, located in the heart of Beijing, has an equally impressive moat. A 170-foot-wide, 20-foot-deep rectangle of water surrounds the Forbidden City, a massive complex of villas, shrines, storehouses, chapels, residences, and gardens that housed China's emperors and their families for almost 500 years, from 1420 to 1912. Once meant for protection, the water now adds a picturesque touch to the complex, which has become a museum. 


What's better than a castle with a moat? A castle with a moat filled with bears, obviously. TheState Castle and Chateau of Český Krumlov, the second-biggest castle complex in Central Europe, includes a dry moat that's been periodically filled with bears since at least 1707. Legend has it that the animals were given to the Rosenbergs, who ruled the castle and region for about 400 years, as a token of their supposed connection with an Italian family of nobles called the Orsinis. ("Orsa" means female bear in Italian.) According to the Associated Press, "The animals get their own birthday parties and a big Christmas Eve Bear festival where children bring presents and food for them." They even have their own bearkeeper, a devoted man named Jan Černý, who is working to update the moat's ursinarium to modern-day bear living standards. 


This star-shaped fort, with its accompanying network of star-shaped moats, was created in the late 16th century by Prince William the Silent during the Eighty Years' War. The Dutch were fighting for independence from Spain, and the fort's original purpose was to control the only road between Germany and the city of Groningen, which the Spaniards had taken over. The fort saw several battles before being converted into a village in 1851, but since the 1970s, it’s been an open-air museum. (It's far from the world's only star fort, by the way: the design evolved during the Renaissance as a response to increased use of gunpowder. Cannons could easily penetrate the high stone walls of medieval fortresses, but the star forts' lower angles, made from earthen or brick walls, were created to better resist cannon fire.) 


The largest and most famous of Japan's “samurai castles,” Himeji Castle is sometimes called Shirasagi-jo ("White Heron Castle") because its graceful white exterior is thought to resemble the bird. The castle complex includes 83 buildings, with well-preserved turrets, keeps, and courtyards, as well as a system of three moats meant to repel invaders. Building them required huge amounts of stone—more than three miles of it for the inner moat alone, exhausting local quarries so much that builders also incorporated Buddhist sculptures and stone coffins from prehistoric burial mounds, according to journalist Kristin Johannsen


At Egeskov Castle, the moat is an entire lake, which the castle stands on top of, supported by a system of oak pilings. (Supposedly the castle required an entire oak forest to construct: hence its name, which means “oak forest.”) Built by nobleman Frands Brockenhuus and completed in 1554, it’s now said to be the best-preserved moated castle in Europe, and isopen to the public. Aside from the moat, the castle includes 66 rooms, 171 doors, more than 2,000 windowpanes, a farm, a car museum, and an exquisitely detailed dollhouse. Tradition has it that if a wooden sculpture of a man lying beneath the spire of the castle's tower is ever moved from his cushion, the castle will sink into the moat on Christmas Eve. (Not surprisingly, the castle’s inhabitants have usually chosen to spend Christmas elsewhere, just in case.) 


The City of Benin was once protected by a system of ramparts and moats that are said to have been the largest earthwork ever made. According to the New Scientist, they once extended for almost 1,000 miles, in a network of 500 interconnected boundaries. Dug by the Edo people between about 800 and 1500, they are also said to have been four times longer than the Great Wall of China, and to have taken about 150 million hours of digging to construct. Though much of them were destroyed by the British in 1897, parts are still around. 


With its spiral staircases, massive towers, battlements, and ruined interior, the 14th century Bodiam Castle is pretty much your childhood dream come to life. And of course, there's a moat, about 540 feet long and 8 feet deep, and now stocked with ducks and fish. The castle was built by former knight Sir Edward Dallingridge in 1385 during the Hundred Years' War for protection against the French (supposedly, although Dallingridge saw it more as a status symbol) and has been largely unaltered since its construction. 


The largest stone fort ever built in the U.S., the seven-sided Fort Monroe was built by the U.S. government from 1819-1834 at a strategic point on the tip of the Virginia peninsula. A moat surrounds all the inner structures. While most of the rest of Virginia fell to Confederate hands, the fort remained in Union control, and became a haven for former slaves. Former Confederate President Jefferson Davis also spent two years imprisoned at the site. It remained in military use until 2011, when it was decommissioned and became a national monument you can now explore. 


Nicknamed "Black Crow Castle" for its somber exterior (and in contrast to the “White Heron Castle,” Himeji), Matsumoto Castle was once ringed by three concentric stone moats: one encircled a tower, one protecting palaces and storehouses, and one surrounding the residential quarters where the families of 90 high-ranking samurais lived. Today, only two of the moats remain, but the castle is one of the most-visited in Japan. 
Built in the early 16th century, the castle was in use for about 350 years, and is now open to the public as a museum. It also contains a unique addition: in the early 16th century, the castle's lord added a "moon-viewing tower" where he and his friends could quaff sake and write poetry. 


The world's largest religious building has a moat to match: Angkor Wat is surrounded by a 650-foot-wide, 13-foot-deep square of water that runs for more than 3 miles around the perimeter of the temple complex. It's so big it can be seen from space. In addition to protecting the temple's buildings—constructed in the 12th century to resemble the Hindu Mt. Meru, dwelling place of the gods—the moat also helped stabilize their foundation. By collecting runoff from the region's frequent monsoons, it prevents the temple from sinking into the mud below.


A LYING bastard of a phone claimed it had at least 12 percent battery life left before dying two minutes later.
Tom Logan revealed he was on a night out straight from work and did not have the chance to charge his phone, but checked saw it had a ’reasonable chunk’ of battery life remaining.
Logan said: “Twelve percent, clear as day. Not eight, not four. Twelve. Anyway, I thought ‘great, that should see me through as long as I don’t spend all night twatting about on Facebook’.
“As soon as we got to the pub I checked my phone and it was dead. Stone cold dead. I felt betrayed and manipulated.
“It was like being in the presence of pure evil.”
Logan said he plugged in his phone when he got back to his flat to discover he had no missed calls or texts.
He added: “It’s the principle of the thing.”

Safer Rounds


Residents of a remote region is Siberia are to get rubber bullets to help them ward off polar bears.

The governor of Yamalo-Nenets district said the bullets would be handed out in Arctic coastal areas, which are particularly affected by the polar bear menace. Similar measures were taken last year with help from the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), Igor Koshin said, but the persisting threat from them shows that more needs to be done.

Not all of the bear aggression is unprovoked, the governor went on. "Unfortunately, people sometimes forget that they live on the Arctic coast, not in a megalopolis," he said, according to a report by the Nenets Information Agency.

Polar bears are a common threat in the area. Residents of Amderma, a village of 350 people, have been trying to ward off one particularly obnoxious polar bear for more than a month now, but the animal keeps coming back.

Also in Yamalo-Nenets region, staff at a remote weather station say they feel "besieged" by five aggressive polar bears. "They even sleep outside our building, and they fought among themselves recently," one employee said.

This Day in History

August 31, 1888
Mary_Ann_'Polly'_NicholsJust before 4 am on August 31, 1888, on London’s seedy Buck’s Row, a cart driver named Charles Cross saw the body of a woman lying on the ground. In the early morning gloom, it was initially impossible to tell if she was drunk or dead. Cross was soon joined by another carter, Robert Paul. The two men saw the woman’s skirts were pulled above her waist. They smoothed them back over her knees and went searching for a policeman.
What the two carters didn’t notice in the shifting shadows was the woman’s throat had been cut so brutally that her head had almost been decapitated. Beat officer John Neil discovered that gruesome fact on closer inspection of the body. (He later testified at the inquest that when he had passed that way just 30 minutes earlier, “there was not a soul about.”)
P.C. Neil sent another colleague to fetch a local medic and soon Dr. Rees Ralph Llewellyn arrived on the scene. He quickly examined the body and found that the arms and legs were still warm. Llewellyn believed the woman had been dead for less than 30 minutes. Her killer may have still been lurking nearby when Cross and Paul came upon the body. (Recent speculation has even pointed fingers at Cross himself being the killer.)
The victim was soon identified as Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, a 44-year old alcoholic and prostitute. As noted, her throat had been cut ear-to-ear down to the vertebrae and the large blood vessels on both sides of her neck had been severed. There were also several very deep horizontal wounds on Polly’s lower abdomen, and three violent wounds running downwards as well.
Nichols had last been seen by her friend Emily Holland around 2:30 a.m. She was off to raise the money needed to secure a bed in a lodging house and assured Holland she’d be back soon. Polly said that she’d already made the money she needed a few times over that evening, but drank her earnings instead of paying for a room. So Polly stumbled off into the night and her unhappy fate.
On Buck’s Row, the killer, most likely posing as a customer, managed to clap a hand over Nichols’ mouth and slit her throat without a single person hearing, despite some workers in a building nearby. Even more incredibly, he had time to mutilate her and then slip silently into the night.
One would think he’d be detected by the blood he’d undoubtedly be covered in, but as the coroner testified at the inquest, “If, however, blood was principally on his hands, the presence of so many slaughter-houses in the neighborhood would make the frequenters of this spot familiar with blood-stained clothes and hands, and his appearance might in that way have failed to attract attention while he passed from Buck’s-row in the twilight into Whitechapel-road, and was lost sight of in the morning’s market traffic.”
So it was that London’s East End was put at the mercy of one of the most notorious serial killers in history – Jack the Ripper.


Wally Drains Robot - Dilbert by Scott Adams

Another Loss

Hollywood lost one its most iconic talents this weekend with the death of 76-year-old Wes Craven, who passed away on Sunday after a battle with brain cancer.
Though he was best known for his contributions to the horror genre, with such iconic films asLast House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream to his credit, Craven wasn't afraid to experiment. He surprised audiences in 1999 when he directed the dramatic Music of the Heart, which earned two Oscar nominations, including one for Meryl Streep. But he embraced the role of master of horror, and his enthusiasm for the art of filmmaking was both evident and infectious, as evidenced by these quotes.


"I wasn’t even aware of film school when I started. The way we started, we were just a bunch of guys making films for the hell of it. We knew nobody in Hollywood, we knew nothing about Hollywood, and it was a shock to us we had to send our film off to this place called the MPAA. We were just doing movies."
From a 2013 interview with Film School Rejects


"I didn’t see many films until I was in college teaching. Looking back now, if I went to film school, it probably would have helped knowing what the best of the best of foreign films were, but that wasn’t the case. In some ways, I think that led to my originality, because I hadn’t seen anybody else."
From a 2013 interview with Film School Rejects


"Basically, I’ve found that if you have two films that don’t perform well it doesn’t matter that you’ve had a bunch of successful ones. The phone stops ringing, and after Deadly Blessingand Swamp Thing that’s what happened."
From a 2014 interview with Filmmaker Magazine


"The first monster you have to scare the audience with is yourself."


"When you have a name that means scares, you have to live with that."
From a 2005 interview with Tampa Bay Times


"You learn a lot more from those bumps than from when things are going great."
From a 2013 interview with Film School Rejects


"I’ve reached a place that many directors and filmmakers get to, and I’m grateful for that, and I can work within those boundaries. If something comes along that is totally outside of horror, fine, but I find there’s an immense amount of freedom within the genre."
From a 2009 interview with The A.V. Club


"I think the experience of going to a theater and seeing a movie with a lot of people is still part of the transformational power of the film, and it's equivalent to the old shaman telling a story by the campfire to a bunch of people. That is a remarkable thing, if you scream and everyone else in the audience screams, you realize that your fears are not just within yourself, they're in other people as well, and that's strangely releasing. But on the TV, you can still watch it with friends. We watch films on so many different mediums now, that I think they'll complement each other for a long time."
From a 2013 interview with Arrow in the Head


"Everybody's making horror films and, to me, not especially well. I don't know if it's [due to] the corporations taking over studios or what it is. But it really calls for some young filmmakers to come in and just do something from their hearts."
—From a 2005 interview with Tampa Bay Times


"I try not to look back too much. I think the important thing about staying creative and staying sharp and original is not to look back too much, and to kind of look to where your vision is going now."