Sunday, 31 January 2016

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Welkum 2 Brittern

British teenagers are among the least literate in the developed world, according to a new report.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) analysed data from a previous report and found that English teenagers aged 16-19 had the worst literacy levels of developed nations.

The country also had the second worst numeracy levels for this age group.

literacy numeracy

Better Than Tetleys

Because as we all know, "Tetley make tea bags, make tea".  So leave it the fuck alone when it comes to making beer*.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Suffolk-based brewer Greene King, making its flagship IPA the official beer of England cricket.

The deal includes a range of commercial rights including access to England players for promotional appearances, in-ground advertising and opportunities to display the ECB brand on retail products.

“As we look to introduce our iconic IPA to a broader range of drinkers, we expect the increased exposure this deal will bring for our flagship ale, and our full beer portfolio, to deliver benefits which will be felt across the business”, said Chris Houlton, managing director of Greene King brewing and brands.

“We are delighted to partner with the ECB in time for the start of the summer season and we will be with the England cricket team every step of the way over the next five years.”

The partnership will initially see Greene King present throughout this summer’s international series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, as well as the next home Ashes series against Australia in 2019.

As well as becoming the Official Beer of England Cricket, Greene King has also announced a new partnership with Surrey County Cricket Club (SCCC) to become the main beer supplier for all domestic and international matches at the Kia Oval in a three-year agreement that includes investment in new bar facilities throughout the stadium.


*I may be a tad biased against this vile "beer", never liked it or ever will.  Just personal taste.


Cartoonists like Jim Davis (Garfield) and Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts) spent years developing their own unique drawing styles, and it's their recognizable characters along with great stories that have made their work iconic. But what if a different famed artist had dreamed up those iconic illustrations?
Artist Jaakko Seppälä picked 10 cartoons and imagined what they would look like if they were created by different people. The artist mimicked creators and illustrators like Bob Kane (Batman), Tove Jansson (Moomin), Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), and Georges Remi (Tintin) to make a chart of 100 faces.
Seppälä does not list the original artists or the names of their cartoons next to the images in the chart, but he does highlight the original characters that he is borrowing from to make the imagined cartoons. Whether or not you accept the challenge to recognize (or figure out) all 10 styles, you can still appreciate how closely the artist was able to make the styles his own.

Well Said

The only good ideas are the ones I can take credit for.
R. StevensDiesel Sweeties, 11-13-06

Default Mode

Andy Murray has secured this years runners-up spot at the Australian Open, following his 5-set semi-final victory over Canadian, Milos Raonic.
The Scotsman, who is about to become a father for the first time, is booked in to lose against current holder Novak Djokovic on Sunday.
In his post-match press conference, Murray said he would use the formality of the match to catch up on some reading about his impending father-hood.
“I’ve got lots of books with me,” he told reporters.
“If I had my way, Kim would go into labour at around 2PM Australian time and we can forget about the match altogether.”
Murray went on to deny that losing to Djokovic several times at the same stage had impacted his competitive nature.
“No – losing to Novak always gets my juices flowing, and this loss will be no different.”
Former British loser, Tim Henman, wished Murray good luck with his in-match reading.
“I hope they take the form of novellas.”
“Honestly I can’t see him being on court long enough to even get past the nappy changing section.”
“He would be better served using the time to draft his losers speech.”


The bikini wax has been around for hundreds of years.  Muslim brides-to-be in the Middle East and North Africa remove all their body hair before the wedding night.


Share and share alike


Give equal shares to all.


The expression was first known as 'share and share like', as in this example from Richard Edwards's comedy Damon and Pithias, 1566:
"Let vs into the Courte to parte the spoyle, share and share like."
Daniel Defoe, appears to be the first to have used the 'share and share alike' version. That was is Robinson Crusoe, or as he called it The life and strange adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 1719:
"He declar'd he had reserv'd nothing from the Men, and went Share and Share alike with them in every Bit they eat."


Later Today

Whether we get The Arse or not, you can find out later today (Sunday, 31st January) at 18:20 UK time.  Here are your lucky numbers:

1. West Bromwich Albion or Peterborough
2. Leeds United
3. Arsenal
4. Manchester United
5. Reading
6. Liverpool or West Ham
7. Manchester City
8. Shrewsbury Town
9. Watford
10. Carlisle United or Everton
11. Crystal Palace
12. Blackburn Rovers
13. Bournemouth
14. Tottenham Hotspur
15. Hull City
16. MK Dons or Chelsea

4th Round Results

I can see us getting drawn with The Arse next round...
SAT 30 JAN 2016 - FA CUP

Viz Bits

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 17.52.04

Match Report

If you are to cause a Cup shock then favourable alignment of the stars is a clear prerequisite. It is true that Tottenham, lucid and authoritative throughout against opponents who are bottom of League One, deserved this victory, but an equally fair observation would be that the cosmos demurred at Colchester’s hour of need.
Their centre-backs, Alex Wynter and Tom Eastman, were substituted within the first 20 minutes after an early collision. Tottenham made full use of the resulting disarray and might have scored many more than their eventual four, but the home side’s cruel luck made the application shown in their performance, particularly a spirited second half, a minor achievement of its own.
Little over a minute had passed when the Colchester defenders, challenging for a high ball with Harry Kane, clashed heads and prompted a four-minute delay. Wynter’s condition immediately looked the more serious. He appeared to suffer a mild seizure on the pitch and while Eastman disappeared down the tunnel for stitches, Wynter eventually departed on a stretcher. Eastman returned briefly, swathed in bandages, before declaring himself unable to continue. Wynter was taken to hospital. Colchester later provided an update on Wynter on the club’s website: “Whilst still a little groggy, his CT scan came back normal and Alex will be kept in hospital until midnight to monitor his recovery.”
In the meantime Tottenham set about a barrage of the home goal that was only going to end one way well before Nacer Chadli scored the first of his two goals before the half-hour.
Only the Colchester goalkeeper, Jake Kean, and a variety of wayward efforts had prevented Tottenham from being out of sight by the time Chadli, found just outside the area by Erik Lamela, whipped an excellent shot into the far corner.“How many times has that happened?” asked the Colchester manager, Kevin Keen. “You lose one like that, you make a substitution and play with 10 men, then you lose another one. You’re a League One team against a Premier League team and it’s a tough ask. I’ve got nothing but pride in my players and how they represented the club.”
Kean saved brilliantly again from Kane, who wore the captain’s armband, and by half-time the only surprise was that this remained a contest in any form.
A wickedly deflected shot from Eric Dier, deployed at centre-back here, in the 64th minute simultaneously doubled the lead and epitomised Colchester’s luck. After that Chadli, who had earlier struck the bar from six yards when a second goal seemed inevitable, resumed centre stage, first heading in at the near post from Kieran Trippier’s delivery and then providing the left-sided cross for Tom Carroll to volley past Kean eight minutes from time.
“I’m very pleased with him,” said Mauricio Pochettino of Chadli, who scored for the third consecutive game and has found form after recovering from ankle ligament damage. “After his injury it was difficult to find his level but this was the kind of performance from before. Yes, he hit the crossbar, but I’m very pleased and maybe he was keeping some goals for the next game.”
If Chris Porter had used head rather than outstretched leg to attack a Darren Ambrose cross in the 55th minute then things could have been different. Had Marvin Sordell not clipped the post when sent clear by a one-two with Gavin Massey then Tottenham would have been clinging on to a 2-1 lead in the final 15 minutes.Pochettino accepted that “a lot of things happened” in the game’s first quarter and sent his wishes for a speedy recovery to Wynter, whose team-mates made a fight of things after half-time.
The goal they deserved came after Chadli’s second had put the issue to bed, Ben Davies standing little chance of getting out of the way after Massey had rapped the same upright.
Colchester had lost 11 of their previous 13 league games but they showed enough wit here to keep their visitors honest.

“Maybe it will happen but I repeat that it’s important to add the right profile to the squad,” he said. “It’s not buying for buying’s sake. Maybe we will have a bit of luck in the next few days.”Tottenham are thought to be seeking some more attacking ingenuity of their own. Pochettino, when pressed about a move for the Fulham striker Moussa Dembélé afterwards, refused to talk about specific players but admitted that an addition was not out of the question.


FA Cup special is on here at 14:40 and I for one have already got the popcorn at the ready.  Spurs had an easier game against a team at the foot of the First Division and managed to rest a few players but still win 1 - 4, so I am looking forward to seeing the match.

Star Wars DYK?

Last one in this rather good series from TIFO.


Welcome Back

Just heard that Ross has booked his return flight to Thailand in time for Songkran.  Which means he will be with us in April, just a a couple of months away.

Looking forward to the headache already...

Work Around

Now that our travel laptop is working again (and how quick is it?  A solid state drive is so much faster) I am thinking about upgrading to a back lit keyboard.  It is quite high on my list of requirements as when we are on the road we rarely get two roomed digs and so I have to use the computer in the same room as wifey, who likes nothing more than a lie in.

Now the replacement keyboard will cost around £80 which is a lot compared to what I paid for the lappie itself so I need a cheaper solution to illuminate the keyboard without disturbing wifey's beauty sleep.

Then it came to me.  I think I will give one of those battery operated, clip on book lights a go,  They are only a few quid and may well do the trick.  I may even find something with a USB connection.

I'll let you know how I get on.


Nowt springs to mind, Spurs won.

Getting Better

When living in England in our home, I couldn't sleep if the slightest sound was heard.  Even a ticking wristwatch was enough to keep me up until it was removed.

Since travelling and staying in all manner of accommodation that has gradually improved and now I can readily kip with air units or fans working flat out all night.

Guess necessity outweighs luxury?


If you have a full blown kitchen and all the necessary tools (like an oven or decent hob) you can make most things from scratch and say you're a reasonable cook.

For us though, who barely have a conduction hotplate, microwave and a dodgy fridge (freezer is fecked, don't ya know) I think it takes more skill to prepare something tasty in any way you can.

Which means cheating.

Top of the list is Patak's curry paste or ready made sauces.  Either are life savers but with both you can make an authentic tasting curry, add some steamed rice bought on the street (10 pence a portion) and chuck in some veg and lentils and you're away.

Guess what we had for dinner last night?

Saturday, 30 January 2016

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Come on Over- Or Not

asylum seekers

asylum seekers

More at i100

All Change

Kungsgatan_1967Meaning literally, “right traffic day,” Dagen Högertrafik, or “Dagen H” (H day), was the day in 1967 that the country of Sweden managed to successfully switch from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right.
Not a spur of the moment decision, the Högertrafikomläggningen (“The right hand traffic diversion”) had been planned for years prior to implementation, in recognition of the inherent problems that arose by the fact that among the nations of Continental Europe, Sweden was the only country where people still drove on the left. (If you’re curious why, see: Why Some Countries Drive on the Right and Some Countries Drive on the Left.) In addition, the architects of the plan tapped into the widespread perception that having the steering wheel on the left while also driving there caused more head-on collisions.
Regardless, switching to the right was not a popular idea among Swedes, and when the idea was first floated in 1955, only 17% of the populace approved the change. However, realizing that in the late 1960s nearly 10,000,000 cars would cross Swedish borders one way or another, and knowing that that number was predicted to double by the early 1970s, Swedish leaders decided to make the switch.
Voting for the Statens Högertrafikkommission (HTK) in 1963, the Swedish Riksdag instituted a commission that established a four-year program to make the change and educate the populace.
Consulting psychiatrists on how to get public buy-in for the plan, the government sponsored campaigns that placed the Dagen H logo on everything from underwear (including advertising with scantily clad models wearing said underwear) to milk cartons. They even sponsored a song contest where the Telstars had the winner with Håll dig till höger, Svensson (“keep to the right, Svensson.”)
The switch necessitated the replacement or retrofitting of nearly every traffic light, bus (the doors were switched to the right-hand side), bus stop (which had to be moved across the street), road line and headlamp. At the time a trend had begun to arise to have headlamps direct their light to be slightly brighter on one side to illuminate the bordering ditch or sidewalk side of the road better. The rising popularity of this increased the pressure to make the switch sooner than later as those who had these headlamps made for left-hand driving, but driving on right hand roads, would reportedly blind oncoming drivers (with the extra light now shining directly into oncoming traffic instead of the side of the road) and vice-versa as cars crossed the borders. The final cost of Dagen H has been estimated at around £40 million in 1967 money or about £648 million today.
During the preparations for the single-day switch, the new traffic lights were wrapped in black plastic to keep from confusing drivers before the big day, and the road lines, which were painted white instead of the traditional Swedish yellow, were covered in black tape. (One imagines it was a banner year for a certain tape manufacturer.)
In addition, prior to H day 12,000,000 notes were distributed to citizens, and 130,000 tilted H signs were deployed along Sweden’s roads, to remind drivers of the switch.
On Sunday, September 3, 1967, for most of the country, all non-essential traffic was banned from 1 to 6 a.m. In these places, at 4:50 a.m., all vehicles that were allowed to drive had to completely stop, and then carefully change to the right-hand side of the road. At precisely 5:00 a.m., traffic was allowed to resume, at which time Swedish drivers experienced what Time magazine called “a brief but monumental traffic jam,” that happily resolved relatively quickly.
In some of its largest towns, including Stockholm and Malmö, the ban on non-essential traffic began as early as 10 p.m. the night before, and lasted until 4 p.m. that Sunday, in order to give workers time to re-do the intersections. In total, about 8,000 officials and 150,0000 volunteers were deployed that weekend, either to convert traffic signals and lines, keep the peace, or to assist pedestrians at dangerous intersections.
Anxious to try out the latest thing, hundreds of thousands of drivers poured onto Swedish streets that Sunday once their ban had been lifted. Surprisingly, there were only 157 accidents, with only 32 causing any personal injuries, and just “a handful of these were serious.”
The following Monday’s rush hour traffic went relatively smoothly all things considered, and the 125 reported traffic accidents were fewer than the typical daily number of 130-198. Many believe that the combination of the perceived risk with a lack of familiarity made motorists more careful than they’d normally be. (For similar reasons,pedestrians are actually about 28% less likely to be hurt while crossing a street if they illegally jaywalk, rather than cross at a crosswalk that doesn’t include any additional signals like traffic lights.) Within a few years, however, accident rates had returned to normal.
Generally considered a success, one of Dagen H’s key architects, Minister Olof Palme, exclaimed after the successful roll-out: “Fantastic! Can anyone imagine that the Swedish people experienced a revolution for just a few hours?”
Bonus Facts:
  • The British, who also drove on the left (and still do), observed the switch intently, although they remained unconvinced that a similar change would be in their best interests. According to some estimates, moving to the right side in Britain at the time would have cost nearly seven times what it cost Sweden, and, whether accurately or not, experts anticipated even more switch-induced accidents would occur. In addition, they noted that many countries, including Ireland, Malta and Cyprus, had their own traffic eccentricities that worked just fine, even with tourists.  For instance, the people of Timor drive on the right in East Timor and the left in West Timor…  Ambidextrous drivers.
  • International regulations for preventing collisions at sea decree that all water traffic should keep to the right when two sea craft pass one another going opposite directions.  The reason for this was that historically the steering oar for ships was on the right hand side of the boat.  Thus, by passing each other port to port (keep-right), they would protect the steering oars from colliding as would have been possible had they adopted a keep-left rule. (And if you’re curious: Why Port and Starboard Indicate the Left and Right Side of a Ship)
  • In aircraft, the “rule of the road” is keep-right when passing oncoming air traffic.   Interestingly, in dual-control airplanes, the captain always sits on the left side of the plane as you might expect, but in helicopters, the captain sits on the right hand side.
  • Many early cars had the driver’s seat in the center of the car rather than on one side or the other.  Gradually, car manufactures began putting the seat on one side or the other.  Some chose to put it on the side closest to the curb so that people could more easily avoid scraping buildings, curbs, etc.  Other car manufactures would put it on the opposing traffic side to help reduce car to car collisions, which would tend to be more deadly.
  • Many early American motorized vehicles actually placed the steering wheel on the right hand side of the car, even though America used the keep-right rule.  This practice finally was put to an end largely due to Henry Ford; he preferred the left side steering wheel so Ford cars featured this.  Due to their popularity, this effectively squashed the right hand steering wheel cars in America.
  • According to research done in 1969 by J.J. Leeming, keep-left countries have a much lower collision rate than keep-right countries.  It is thought the reason behind this is that most people’s right eye is their dominant eye.  Thus, the right eye in keep-left traffic is the one closest to oncoming traffic and so should reduce collisions.   Another theory as to why this might be is that most people are right handed, so when driving a manual transmission car in a keep-left country, most people’s dominant hand is on the steering wheel; this could help in a person’s ability to maneuver accurately.
  • Most horse riders and cyclists will naturally mount the horse or bike from the left hand side.  In the cyclist’s case, this is why most bike chains and gears are on the right side of the bike so that the rider can walk along on the left side of the bike and not worry about getting pants or shoe laces caught in the gearing while walking beside the bike.

Star Gazing

Best Musical Ever

The movie Grease (1978), based on the musical of the same name, is about to be recreated live on Fox starring Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough. The original tough guy Danny and sweet Sandy were John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, two teenagers who have a summer romance and unexpectedly find themselves as Rydell High classmates in the 1950s. With a $6 million budget and an almost $400 million box office, it is still the highest-grossing movie musical of all time. Here are some facts about the original that are collectively the time, the place, and the motion.


As far as Henry Winkler was concerned, Danny Zuko was too similar to Fonzie, the tough guy with a heart of gold he was already playing on Happy Days.


Marie Osmond told Larry King that she turned the part down because she “didn’t want my teenagers some day to say, you know, ‘You have to go bad to get the boy.’ It was just a personal choice as a some day mother.” Dey (Laurie on The Partridge Familydidn’t want to play another teenager. Director Randal Kleiser went to the Star Wars mixing stage to visit his college roommate, George Lucas, and to see Carrie Fisher in one of the battle scenes. But Kleiser couldn’t tell from the scene whether Fisher was right for the part, so he kept looking. In 1998, Travolta revealed he heard singer Linda Ronstadt was also in consideration.


Producer/co-writer Allan Carr met Olivia Newton-John at a party thrown by fellow Australian singer Helen Reddy and was “completely smitten” and begged her to sign on for the part. Travolta told The Morning Call that he rallied for Newton-John to get the part, too. Not trusting her good fortune or her acting (her last movie, Toomorrow, had been released back in 1970),Newton-John requested a screen test with Travolta to make sure they had chemistry.


Carr wanted Warhol to play the art teacher. One unnamed studio executive said he would not have “that man” in the movie, which Carr interpreted as the executive having a personal vendetta against the legendary artist. Carr also wanted porn star Harry Reems to play Coach Calhoun and offered him the part after a screening of Casablanca at Hugh Hefner’s mansion. The studio wouldn’t have it. “They bounced me out of the cast,” Reems said. “They thought they might lose some play dates in the South.” Carr felt so badly about it that he wrote Reems a personal check for $5000.


Gerald Ford’s son, Steven, was too nervous to play Tom Chisum, Sandy’s jock boyfriend, who had a grand total of zero lines. Lamas (later Lance Cumson on Falcon Crest and Hector Ramírez on The Bold and the Beautiful) jumped at the chance, agreeing to lighten his dark hair because he looked too much like a T-Bird. "I would have dyed it green, fuchsia, anything,"Lamas told People.


Stockard Channing (Rizzo) was 34 when the film was released. Newton-John was 29. Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) was 27. Travolta was 24. Jamie Donnelly (Jan) was 30 during filming, and had to dye her hair from her premature grey to black. Her hair grew back so quickly that her roots had to be colored in with a black crayon every day.


Kleiser didn’t like this song because he thought the lyrics were too dark and not fitting of the 1950s. Kleiser asked Gibb to make the lyrics more upbeat; Gibb told Kleiser he should shoot a serious scene to match the song. It became a number one single in the United States.


Conaway gave Channing a real hickey because he wanted it to be authentic. Conaway was also so infatuated with Newton-John he was tongue-tied whenever she was around. He later married Olivia’s sister, Rona.


Travolta’s two conditions for agreeing to play Danny were that he could sing “Greased Lightnin',” even though Kenickie sang it in the stage production; and that he had to have “blue black hair like Elvis Presley and Rock Hudson in the movies” because “it’s surreal and it’s very 1950s.” The star also argued with Kleiser over the end of the song “Sandy”; he wanted a close-up of himself instead of the cartoon shot of a hot dog diving into a bun. Kleiser got his way.


Carr made a promotional deal with Pepsi; the set decorator didn't know that. When the producer saw footage from the movie featuring Coke products he went “ballistic,” according to Kleiser. The Coca-Cola logos were blocked out with an optical printer. They couldn’t alter the Coke cooler, because it was impossible to cover with the technology available at the time. Pepsi never complained. They would have unblocked the Coke signs when the Pepsi deal expired before the 20th anniversary re-release if the original print hadn’t been lost.


Travolta kept lip-syncing "heap lap trials" instead of "heat lap trials," and Kleiser claims you could see this in the finished product. Kleiser believed Travolta was distracted after reading a magazine article that morning about his recently deceased girlfriend, Diana Hyland, who had passed away from cancer.


Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, who wrote the original musical’s book, weren’t invited on set during production of the movie. Travolta had played Danny over 100 times on the road doing the musical, and gradually got more lines from Jacobs and Casey’s version into the film, which was written by Carr and Bronté Woodard. When Travolta didn’t think a line of dialogue was working, he would quote a line from the original, and Kleiser would tend to agree and use that line instead.


In “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” Rizzo sings “Elvis, Elvis, let me be, keep that pelvis far from me,” while looking at a picture of The King. That scene was shot on August 16, 1977—the day Presley died. “It was very eerie,” Kleiser told The New York Post. “It was all over the news, so everyone knew. We did this number, and everybody kind of looked at each other like, ‘Yeah, this is creepy.’” When Carr first bought the film rights to Grease, he envisioned Elvis as Danny and Ann-Margret as Sandy. According to, Presley was offered the role of Teen Angel but turned it down.


"They sewed me into those pants every morning for a week," Newton-John said. "Believe me, I had to be very careful about what I ate and drank. It was excruciating." It was 106 degrees on the set for the carnival finale.


In 1997, Kleiser called Sherry Lansing, then head of Paramount, and insisted that Grease had to come back again for its 20th anniversary. Lansing informed Kleiser that George Lucas had called her a few days earlier and said that out of all of the movies in the Paramount vault,Grease is the one that should come back. The Star Wars creator explained that every nine-year-old he knew watched a VHS copy of Grease every day.