Monday, December 17, 2007


No comment on this, it's just too good:

Canada's post office and police are trying to track down a "rogue elf" who wrote obscene letters to children on behalf of Santa Claus, a newspaper reported on Friday.

The Ottawa Citizen said at least 10 nasty letters had been delivered to little girls and boys in Ottawa who wrote to Santa this year care of the North Pole, which has a special H0H 0H0 Canadian postal code. Return letters from Santa are in fact written by an 11,000-strong army of Canada Post employees and volunteers.

"We firmly believe there is just one rogue elf out there," a Canada Post spokeswoman told the paper.

Canada Post's popular "Write to Santa" program -- which last year delivered more than a million letters to children in Canada and around the world -- has been shut down in Ottawa until the offender is caught.

Don't Use Your Phone As a Modem!

I made this mistake a few weeks back when I went travelling and was using my phone as a modem for my laptop. Not as expensive as this, but it was indeed a mistake that I didn't enjoy:

A Canadian oil-field worker, stunned to get a C$85,000 ($83,700) cell phone bill, has had the charges reduced to C$3,400, but is still fighting them.

Piotr Staniaszek, a 22-year-old oil and gas well tester in rural northwest Alberta, became a figure of international media attention this week when his father went to the press to complain about the size of his son's bill.

Staniaszek's father, also named Piotr Staniaszek, said his son thought he could use his new phone as a modem for his computer as part of his C$10 unlimited browser plan from Bell Mobility, a division of Bell Canada.

OK, my error lasted two days and only cost me $400 or so but take this as a lesson. They really don't like you using your phone as a modem and they will charge you a fortune for data downloaded over it.

If that's what you're actualy going to do, you'rebetter of making sureyou get one of the special deals which includes unlimited data. They do exist (T-Mobile has one I think).

Choosing a Web Host

Yes, of course, we're all trying to use these here set of intertubes to make a living. Which of course means that to do so we need a website. OK, so far, so good. But one of the decisions we have to make is how are we going to decide upon which web host to use? There are so many different combinations of features that it can be tough.

Do we care more about bandwidth? Or uptime of the servers? Or flexibility? Or being able to host multiple sites on one server? Or might it be that we need free tools and ease of use more than any of these?

Well, fortunately, the nice guys at have built a tool that takes us through the calculations about such things. Check it out and see, you've got all the information you need in one place there, rather than having to scramble throuh all the different hosting sites and try to compare the offers.

Disclosure Policy.

Lunar Land Prices

Oh no, I can't believe that this old scam has arisen again. Good grief, this was all sorted out decades ago:

Property investors smarting from this year's housing bust in the United States might do well to look farther afield -- even out of this world.

Internet searches for lunar land prices show the cost of buying an acre of the moon's surface has risen 40 percent since the start of 2007, investment bank UBS told clients in a tongue-in-cheek analysis.

It had better be tongue in cheek. The thing is, you see, that selling land on the Moon is in fact illegal.

Quick to caution against "preliminary" conclusions, UBS added: "This is most certainly not a forecast."

United Nations' treaties insist governments cannot claim ownership of the moon. But attempts to close a loophole allowing individuals or firms to do so have failed to garner support.

Well, yes, but you see, without a government to aportion the property rights in the first place, there are none are there? Unless, of course, those selling you the land are stating that they'll protect your land from intruders?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bad Credit Problems

Having bad credit is one thing but trying to work out how to get rid of it is another. You'll get hundreds of offers, of bad credit loans coming through the mailbox every week. But how do you work out which ones are good and which not?

The answer is to use this website, Bad Credit Offers. Look here, for example, at the way you can compare the offerings from a variety of credit repair companies. They've got sections that deal with all of the various services youmight need. So, i you've got bad credit problems, why not pop over there and see what they might be able to do for you.

Disclosure Policy.

Erm, This Evolution Thing

Having said that I was surprised that there are those who do not accept evolution, now I've got to say that I'm gobsmacked by this story:

A Christian biologist is suing the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, claiming he was fired for refusing to accept evolution, lawyers involved in the case said on Friday.

Nathaniel Abraham, an Indian national who describes himself as a "Bible-believing Christian," said in the suit filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Boston that he was fired in 2004 because he would not accept evolution as scientific fact.

Hunh? What? A research biologist refuses to accept evolution? How in hell is he going to do his job?

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination dismissed the case this year, saying Abraham's request not to work on evolutionary aspects of research would be difficult for Woods Hole because its work is based on evolutionary theories.

Well, quite, that's what he's actually investigating there, evolution itself.

Come one, next we'll be hearing from the astronaut who doesn't believe in gravity....

Evolution True!

In what really shouldn't come as much of a surprise researchers have shown, once again, that the things people do is conditioned by evolution. Given that we're the result of people who survived to have children as a result of the things that they did, this shouldn't be all that a startling a result.

Pregnant women may stand out a mile away with their characteristic backward-leaning stance, but that clumsy-looking position is a unique adaptation that evolved over millennia, anthropologists said on Wednesday.

Pregnant pre-humans appeared to have stood the same way. And it may save women from even more back pain than they already have, the researchers report in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

The bodies of women do two things when they are pregnant -- they adjust their stance to move the center of gravity to accommodate the growing fetus, and the lower vertebrae have evolved a distinct shape to allow this shifting to take place without damaging the spine, Katherine Whitcome of Harvard University and colleagues found.

The logic here is pretty easy to understand. Those women who didn't change their stance in this manner would have had greater back pain, greater risk of inusry. They would thus have had fewer children who themselves had such and thus the adaptation spreads through the population.

As we find ever more things that are explained by the evolutionary process, it always surprises me that there are still those who deny it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Point of Insurance

There's something of a confusion over the meaning of "insurance" in the US these days. There's a call fo complete health insurance cover (something I certainly support) but then people say that it should cover the costs of doctors visits, of vaccinations and the like. But that«s not insurance, that's assurance: payment for costs you know will arise.

Insurance is protection against unexpected costs: in terms of health insurance, cancer, or the effects of a bad accident. Like, for example, car insurance. That doesn't cover the costs of your gas, or tires, or oil changes: it covers the costs if you have an accident. Similarly, house insurance doesn't cover the cost of painting the house, of reparing the roof tiles. It's covers the cost of reparing the damage from a fire, or a storm, yes, but that's not certain to happen. That's why it's actually called insurance instead of assurance.

Of course, the very best form of insurance is in fact cheap insurance , so click through that link to see how you can get help with that.

Disclosure Policy.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Two Women in the News

Two women previously unknown to us here have got into the news.

Debra Lafave is a woman in Florida who has had her probation revoked because she talked about boys with a 17 year old waitress in the restaurant she worked in.

Anna Rawson will (might?) do for women's golf what Tiger did for men's. That's the hope, anyway.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Financial Advisors

I'm always most amused by the various people that set themselves up as financial advisors. People like Charles Nenner, for example.

´Because there's one logical point which the people following them don't quite seem to get. If these people are so damn good at predictin the future, why aren't they buying the stocks themselves,in the way that Warren Buffett does? If they've got this terribly valuable information, why are they selling it for a few bucks, rather than making billions out of it?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Visiting Germania

Germania is the old Latin name for what is not Germany and Austria: the German speaking areas if you wish. Historically (at least in recent, centuries long history) they'vebeen very different. One of the things that's interesting about visiting the various parts is that they are, indeed, so different.

For example, Catholic and beer drinking Bavaria is very different from the Lutheran and Protestant north: it's still afault line that ruins through German politics to this day. There's also the effect that you can still see of the difference between West Germany and the depredations of the Communist East. Nowhere is better to see this than Berlin itself, and if you're going to go there then this page of hotels in Berlin actually shows the difference. It's vastly cheaper to stay in hte old East than it is on the Ossi side.

My own recommendation is that anyone who wants to understand the difference between socialism and capitalism visit the place.

Now elsewhere in Germania there is Vienna: the list of hotels in Vienna doesn't show that same difference. There you go for the apotheosis of the bourgeois lifestyle. Cream cakes and kaffeeklatcht: and if you're really lucky, for the New Year's Eve performance of Die Fleidermaus (in English, The Magic Flute).

If it happens that you already speak German, then the same information is available on hotels in Berlin and hotels in Vienna in that language.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


What with this new house and the ever increasing menageries I'm looking into the possibilities of camcorders. You know, it would be nice to be able to post video of the new work, of the surrounding countryside, so that friends and relatives could see where we are now.

Plus, of course, I want to be able to take part in cat blogging.

So what I need to find is information on how to actually use one: that's simple enough, I'll simply read the instruction manual of whichever I buy. Which leads to another problem: which one should I buy?

Fortunately, there's a sitehere with more than anyone actually needs to know on the differnt makes and types of camcorders on the market. Excuse me while I go and check it out?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Spanish Hotels

Thinking about one of those budget mini-breaks? With the cost of air travel going through the floor, well, why not? The thing is though, when you get there you can end up paying a fortune for a place to rest your weary head for the night.

Which is why if you're say, going to Barcelona to look at the Gaudi archtiecture park (there's one house built of what look like human bones for example) up by the Olympic Park, or simply rambling on Las Ramblas (the closer you get to the port itself the cheaper and filthier it gets) you'll want to take a look at this site on spain hotels.

Or if the big city isn't your thing, if beaches and sand are, why not try Benidorm? There's the Axqualandia water park or peacock island if simply soaking up the rays palls: but yes, you'll want to consult spain hotels for they really don't like it if you try sleeping on the beach.

Or perhaps Alicante? The Castillo di Santa Barbara, the Guardalest Monastery....stunning sights and being, as it is, in hte south, almost guaranteed sunshine as well. But yes, you've guessed it, you'll want to use spain hotels before you go, so that you know you've got a reasonably priced place to lay your head before you get there.

Friday, November 16, 2007


As part of our continuing campaign here to sort out this new (to us) house we've been buying all sorts of things, from a new roof to bathroom suites. The pace has rather slowed down at the moment (accumulating the money to go for the next big part of the construction project) and so we're looking at those smaller bits and pieces.

Like mailboxes. Our current mailbox is in fact a homemade steel box from the last owners. It has a broken lock (not all that useful) and isn't in fact weather tight. So I've been looking around and I've found MailBoxixchange.

A huge number of different designs, all at great prices. They also have an affiliate program (here) and I wonder, if enough of you readers also need mailboxes, would I be able to get a free one?

Hmm, even if not enough of you do need one, it's still a great site to look for a mailbox.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


OK, this isn't all that great for the kids who went through the experience but the laughter comes from, well, just what were these people thinking?

A convicted pedophile sentenced to do community service in a German kindergarten will return to court next week to face charges of abusing two children there, a regional prosecutor's office said Thursday.

It's the usual sort of bureacratic cock up, but really, sending a pedophile, in fact forcing him, to work in a kindergarden?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

30 Reasons

This is what the intertubes were invented for! Thi is what we all want to see.

Drunken girls deshabille.....although it might be better of fewer of them were actually throwing up at the time.

A Facebook group called 30 reasons girls should call it a night.

Yup, simply pictures of girls who should indeed have stopped that drinking and gone home earlier.

Friday, October 26, 2007


As regular readers will know we're in hte process of sorting out this new (to us) house and now that we've actually got half of it habitable it's time to think about the exterior. That mean that we need to look at driveways ...around here a car will sink into the mud at certain times of year unless you get these things sorted out properly.

Fortunately, I've found out about Anglian and their abilities at home improvements. Can't see the point of looking anywhere else actually, they know what they're doing, have excellent prices and can do exactly what it is that we want.

Disclosure Policy.

Selling Che Guevara

If it wasn't enough that his visage is on every damn t shirt around the planet, a lock of Che Guevara's hair was recently sold:

A lock of socialist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara's hair and related items were auctioned on Thursday in Dallas to a Houston-area bookstore owner for the very capitalist sum of $119,500.

The curious collection had belonged to Gustavo Villoldo, 71, a former CIA operative who helped hunt Guevara down in the jungles of Bolivia in 1967 and who claims he cut off the lock before burying the guerrilla fighter with two of his comrades.

There was media speculation that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a leftist who greatly admires the iconic Guevara, would bid for the items.

In the end, it went to Houston-based Bill Butler.

"Butler ... is thrilled to own items from Che (and) will display them in his store," said Kelley Norwine, vice president of marketing for Heritage Auction Galleries, which auctioned the mementos.

Ãmazing how he's become almost a saint, isn't it? Even more so the way in which his chikdren were recently in Iran....and we told that their father had been a big believer in God, in Allah.....most amusing really, for as a communist, of course, he was an atheist.

Bariatric Surgery and Diets

One of the things you'll know if you're considering bariatric surgery as a method of promoting weight loss is that you have to follow it up with a special bariatric diet, otherwise the surgery itself really doesn't work on its own. You'll need high protein and high vitamin foods specially designed for such a diet.

These can, unfortunately, be expensive, which is why this website, specialising in bariatric foods is such a useful one. Great products at great prices: they'll even do you packages for a week, or a month, which contain a balanced and varied diet: just what you need to make surethat you follow the diet correctly.
It's a clean and simple site, really easy to understand, just what you want to make sure that your weight loss program is a success.

Disclosure Policy.

Lesbian Worm Sex

Perhaps not quite what you really want to think about but it does appear that a genetic change can bring about a change in sexual orientation:

Altering a gene in the brain of female worms changed their sexual orientation, U.S. researchers said on Thursday, making female worms attracted to other females.

The study reinforces the notion that sexual orientation is hard-wired in the brain, said Erik Jorgensen, scientific director of the Brain Institute at the University of Utah.

"They look like girls, but act and think like boys," Utah researcher Jamie White, who worked on the study published in the journal Current Biology, said in a statement.

Researchers in Jorgensen's lab switched on a gene in female worms that makes the body develop male structures, but they only activated the gene in the brain.

As a result, the female worms still had female bodies, but they behaved like males.

Whether this is applicable to humans is really as yet unknown: as mammals we're really rather more complex in both our genetic structure and our development. What we can say so far is that homosexuality seems to be gentically determined in one species: whether it is in others is still up for grabs.

That Winter Wonderland

Yes, we can feel the fall nights coming in, we can tell that we're getting closer to that winter wonderalnd. And that means, yes, you guessed it, time to get ready for the skiing vacation you know you're gooing to take.

So why not have a look over here for The North Face Ski Wear from breckgear?

They've got the full range of the goods (as indeed they should have, being an online store with no need to stock bricks and mortar places) at great prices. The site is easy to navigate, clean and understandable. It's certainly a great deal easier than trailing around the malls looking for the things you want.

Thoroughly recommended in fact, it's where I'm getting my gear for my ski trip.

Disclosure Policy.

That's Some Go Kart!

Imagine, every kids wet dream. You've got a go kart, the cops are after you....and you manage to beat all those great big squad cars:

A teen-ager speeding through a German town in a go-kart with seven squad cars in hot pursuit managed to give the frustrated officers the slip, police said on Friday.

After leading the convoy on a 5-km (3-mile) chase through the winding streets of Moenchengladbach, the 18-year-old driver spotted a private garage with an open door, where he decided to lie low, police said.

"We were chasing him across town, but the squad cars couldn't keep up because the go-cart was able to take the corners faster and he was able to get away," police spokesman Willy Thevissen said.

Waht a wonderful story, don't you think? Imagine what that kid's going to be like when he is old enough to have a licence....

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dealing With Bad Credit

If you've got bad credit then the thing you need to know is how to deal with it. Fortunately, there's a site set up to help you do just that. For example, how to get a bad credit credit card. Or an auto loan when your credit score is too low for the regular kind. Even, how to find out exactly what is your credit report.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about bad credit is that you can actually get out of it: they way to do so is to take another loan but then to actually make all of the payments on it, on time.

Disclosure Policy.

Three Orders of Magnitude

There are errors and hen there are errors. Getting things out by three orders of magnitude is pretty bad as errors go:

The U.S. Defense Department said on Thursday it was awarding what might have been its richest-ever single contract at $24 billion, but it erred by a factor of 1,000.

The supposedly huge deal, listed in the Pentagon's daily contract digest, was said to have gone to Boeing Co for engineering support of the Air Force's KC-135 refueling fleet.

"No one at Boeing knows of a contract of anything of this magnitude," said Forrest Gossett, a company spokesman in St. Louis.

The Air Force referred callers to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, where the contract was handled. A base spokesman, Ralph Monson, said the real deal was for $24 million -- a difference of more than $23.9 billion.

Even the military industrial complex usually isn't that bad but then when you're spending the taxpayer's money, who really cares about persniketty things like accuracy?

Home Improvements

As regular readers will know we're sorting out this new (to us) house and we've got to the stage where we need to think about the garden: and those bits that mediate between a garden ad the house itself, like a conservatory .

Fortunately I've found Anglian, the experts in home improvements. All the information I need is right there: the range of products looks excellent and intriuingly, they've also got a special offer on at the moment: they'll pay the VAT. Excellent, right, I'm off to have a closer look at this.

Disclosure Policy.

We Don't Like The Brits

Most amusing this. In the case of the Birts it really is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder:

A poll of Europeans showed people of different nationalities liked each other more after getting to know each other, except in the case of the British -- who became less popular.

A project organized by the Notre Europe think tank brought together 362 citizens from 27 EU states for two days of deliberations in Brussels last weekend.

They were asked their views on a range of issues before and after the event, including how much they liked or disliked German, French, Polish, Italian, British and Spanish people.

The Spaniards were most popular with 78.6 percent approval at the end of the weekend. The Poles the least with 67 percent.

But all nationalities gained in popularity, bar the British who went from a 70.3 percent approval rating at the start of the weekend to 68.1 percent by the end.

It would seem then that given our uniqness in character, given our differences with all of the others in this glory that is the EU, we should leave then, eh?

That, of couse, would be just fine by me: the Norway solution perhaps. Fre trade and bugger to everything else.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Windows Vista Review

I'm not a great fan of Windows Vista (I'd have preferred that this new box came with XP for example) and one of the reasons why is that to me it's simply a typewriter with a browser attatched. I simply don't use nor am I interested in finding out about the more advanced features.

However, having looked at the Bright Hub software reviews I might need to change my mind about that. Apparently there's very powerful voice recognition software buried in there. The review shows clearly how to turn it on and use it to best effect as well. Err, excuse me while I go and try this out, will you? Pretty good to find a review that makes you want to try something out immediately, isn't it?

Disclosure Policy.

A Bit Forgetful, Aren't We?

Just what you'd want really, isn't it? A decaying body left at the scene:

The body of a 76-year-old woman found dead in her Vienna flat was left there for nine days because a doctor who registered the death forgot to notify a removal service, officials said Tuesday.

The oversight was noticed when neighbors of the deceased woman complained of a worsening stench, said Andreas Flaschner, spokesman for the Austrian capital's disinfection department.

"It was a mistake. The doctor thought paramedics had removed the body while the paramedics thought the doctor had arranged for it. I've worked here 20 years and never seen anything like it," said Flaschner. The body was taken for burial on October 8.

Now mistakes do happen but this is the sort of thing that happens when no one has a direct responsibility. Ubless someone does, is made responsible for ensuring that a specific action is taken, it's all too easy for things to slip between the cracks like this.

Let that be a warning to managers!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

That Winter Vacation

OK, so it's October, the nights are drawing in. We'vegot the time change in a few weks which'll make it all go dark that much earlier in hte day. So, what does this mean other than a restriction on our ability to sip a beer on the back stoop in the fading sunlight?

Yes, that's right, it means the skiing vacation is nearly upon us! At which point we need to get the old skis out and see if they'll manage another year or not. Having looked, mine won't, so I'm off for a new set of rossignol skis . Normally, I wouldn't go quite so far upmarket but makes them affordable with their great prices. They also carry the full range of rossignol skis at those prices and the site is easy to navigate and clear in its instructions.

If you're also upgrading for this coming season, click through to see what they can offer.

Disclosure Policy.

Theft as a Measure of Success

This isn't as new as it sounds, you know, using thefts as a measure of the success of a product:

The Frankfurt Book Fair has an indicator to help publishers gauge public interest in the new offerings presented at the annual exhibition -- the unofficial "most stolen book" index.

Bild am Sonntag and Germany's ZDF television have come up with lists of titles most stolen from 15 leading German publishers' stands set up in the Frankfurt trade fair grounds.

"The most-stolen books are usually the most-sold later on," Claudia Hanssen of the Goldmann Verlag publishing house told Bild am Sonntag newspaper, which published a list of the 10 most stolen German-language books this year.

"They're the popular ones and are most likely to end up on the best-seller lists," Hanssen added.

If they're popular enough that people will steal them then they're likely t be popular enough fo people to buy them.

One useful example of this is that Terry Pratchett has been the most shop-lifted writer in hte UK for a decade and more. He's also one of the biggest selling. QED.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More Crazed Politicians

Really, you would think that people would think before they dreamed up idiot policies like this:

Italy's economy minister has sparked uproar by offering "big babies" a tax break if they let go of their mother's apron strings and left home.

More than a third of Italian men over the age of 30 live at home with their parents, a phenomenon blamed on sky-high apartment rents and bleak job prospects as much as a liking for mamma's cooking.

Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa offered to come to the rescue with a 1,000 euro ($1,411) tax break for 20- and 30-something Italians who rent.

He said the move was aimed at "bamboccioni," which evokes images of clumsy, overgrown male babies.

"We must send those we call 'big babies' out of the house," the minister told a Senate hearing on the 2008 draft budget.

"With the budget we'll help young people who don't marry and still live with their parents get out of the house."

It's not just the idiocy of targetting tax breaks in this way. It's also the fact that it won't work. A subsidy to people renting will always end up in hte wallets of the landlords: as more people, with more money, go out looking to rent, rents will then rise. This isn't, as it looks like, a subsidy to renters, it's a subsidy to landlords.

Blogging For Money

Right, well, we all want to try and make money on the intertubes, yes? After all, it's the best way to reach the hundreds of millions of potential customers out there and there is indeed a lot of money to be made out of them.

The most important thing you're going to need is an SEO Company . Click through to see what they can do for you but the most basic point is this.

When people go shopping for something they use the search engines to find the sellers of that product. That means that you need to have a front page result for whatever it is that you're tring to sell. An SEO Company exists to help you get that front page result.

That's it, it really is that simple. The desire, of course, is what is simple: actually achieving it is difficult. Which is exactly why you'll want to hire the experts.

Disclosure Policy.

Crazed Politician!

Not really all that much of a surprise, admittedly, to find that a politician is crazy:

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but an Italian minister who tried to argue that paying taxes is "bellissima" has found himself in a minority of one.

Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa's comments that "taxes are a beautiful thing" and "civilized" met a flood of derision Monday, in a country where evasion is so widespread that an estimated 13 percent of workers pay no taxes whatsoever.

Opposition newspaper Il Giornale said "the minister has gone mad" while economist Francesco Giavazzi asked whether "poor families" and wage earners shared the minister's enthusiasm.

Of course, paying taxes is not beautiful, it's simply a necessary evil. There are indeed some things that can not be done individually, there are things that must be done both collectively and with the power of the State (and it's ability to compel) but they are few and far between and taxation is the price we must pay for those.

I do rather like the sound of a country where 13% pay no taxes at all though.

Hiring a Contractor

As regular readers will know we're dealing with this new (to us) house and we've been having the builders in to do various things. One thing that we do wish we had had available is this service for General Contractors but unfortunately it currently only focuses on the Atlanta and Chicago markets. But what is it and why would I like it?

Well, we all know how most people end up hiring people to do building work, home remodelling andthe like? We ask around and see if anyone has used someone who was good, came in on time, under budget and so on. We use personal recommendations in short. But that's not the most efficient way of doing it and that's what these guys do for the market for General Contractors . They provide an efficient marketplace.

To start with they screen all of the local contractors. Only those that pass their stringent standards get to be on the database of the approved. So you've got one level of protection there. Then, via their site, they'll organise three free estimates for you from their pre-approved home improvement and home remodelling contractors. That's right, three of the people we already know are good enough to get into their system.

When you get the three quotes you can then decide which of them that you want to take. And then, of course, you know that you're getting your work done by people who have passed the tests to get into the system and you also know that you've seen three competitive quotes.

An excellent system all around and I just hope that they keep expanding their network. I'd like them to be in our area pretty soon, as we've still got the other side of the house to complete....

Disclosure Policy.

Like it or Your Money Back

Now here's a supplier that believes in the quality of it's products.

Norwegian food retailer Coop launched a new guarantee for its produce on Monday: "If you did not like the food, you will get your money back - no questions asked."

Coop, a consumer-owned cooperative and second biggest food chain in Norway, said competition among retailers was so fierce that in order to win new clients it had to become more creative.

"We trust the customers, if they say they are not pleased with something, we do not ask any questions," Coop spokesman Vidar Ullenroed told Reuters.

"We will refund the whole amount," Ullenroed told top-selling tabloid VG, adding that there did not have to be anything wrong with the product to get cash back.

"We will not argue about a thing. Just bring the packaging, product or receipt," he said.

They do say that they'll be cautious about giving back the money on alcohol that has already been consumed: sensible really, you can iagine a drunk buying one can of beer and it keeping him going for months.

However, this is likely to work. Yes, there will be people who take advantage, but in general most people are honest. Most of us might try it out, but then again, most of us will feel deeply uncomfortable in taking advantage of the store, so while we might do it once I think they're right in thinking that the number of returns will decline over time.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lamps Lamps Lamps

As regular readers will know we're in the process of sorting out this new (to us) house and as we've managed to get the builders out of the house now and into hte garden, it's time for us to be looking at the interior furnishings.

Like, for example, the lamps we're going to be having. I personally prefer table lamps, while the wife prefers floor lamps. Asa a result of that I'm pretty sure that what'll happen is that she'll get her way everwhere and I'll be allowed a desk lamp in my office and that's it.

Still I do have one good thing to report. I won't have to take her shopping for these things. I can just get her to click through those links and choose what she wants from the large range at great prices available. Something I should be grateful for then, even if I'll not be getting what it is that I want. I won't have to work too hard to get what she wants.

There's Stupid and then there's...

We're aware that the criminal classes are not normally well up there, they weren't front of the line when the brains were handed out. However:

A thief in Germany was charred beyond recognition by a 10,000 volt electric shock when he tried to steal a live copper cable, authorities said Monday.

Police in the western city of Duisburg found the 32-year-old man's blackened remains by a set of cable cutters and pile of non-live cables he had already stolen.

Only because one of his hands survived incineration were officers able to identify the man as German of Kazakh origin.

"His fingerprints were already logged on police files," a local police spokesman said. "The force of the shock was so great that the hand was severed from his body."

There's stupid and then there's stupid. Trying to steal a live cable is well up there in hte annals of idocy. What next? Stealing a car motor while it's still running? After all, we've already had the stealing a police car incident.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Projector Rental

Now this is an excellent service indeed. Instead of having to rely upon whatever vastly expensive projector the hotel or conference centre tries to land you with, there's now a nationwide service that will ship you one, anywhere in the US, by Fed Ex next business day. The projector rental Knoxville idea is an excellent one: I wish I'd known about it beofre. Have you any idea how much hotels try and charge you for these things?

You might also like to try them for weddings, birthdays and the like: it's not just a business service.

Disclosure Policy.

You Got Me What?

I think we've all done this to a small extent. Been a little upset when the object of our adoration, of our gift giving, doesn't seem all that impressed with our offering:

A disgruntled Japanese worker smashed up his employer's office in a fit of pique after his boss ignored his gift of jelly desserts, a national paper said on Thursday.

An Osaka court heard that the 31-year-old man, who worked for an online clothing sales company, had given the company president a box of jellies in the summer as a mark of gratitude after landing the job, the English-language Asahi Shimbun said.

Actually smashing the place up though does seem a tad extreme.

Bath Holiday Cottages

Yes, this is an excellent idea. I highly recommend Bath as a place to visit and these bath holiday cottages are excellent places to do so from.

That I grew up in Bath does not in any way make me biased on this point: rather, my background knowledge should make you rest assured that I know what I'm talking about.

Actually, I know just where one of those cottages is and it's an extraordinarily nice area to be in.

Disclosure Policy.

Gimme My Leg Back!

Most amusing:

A man whose amputated, embalmed leg was sold at a North Carolina auction will get the limb back over the objections of the buyer, who wanted to include it in a macabre, money-making Halloween display, police said on Thursday.

The dispute over the leg John Wood lost in an airplane crash three years ago was apparently resolved when police decided the buyer, Shannon Whisnant, had given up ownership by calling authorities and asking them to take it away.

But then, as John Stuart Mill pointed out, if you don't own your own body then you're a slave. So clearly the right decision, although quite what Mill would have made of the story is unknown.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Payday Loans

I've really never understood the problems that people have with Payday Loans. OK, yes, I understand that they're expensive, but then the Payday Lenders also face high expenses. Lending small sums of money for short periods of time: of course this is going to be expensive when expressed as an interest rate on the original sum. The thing is, if people who need to borrow such sums cannot do so legally, they'll do so illegally at vastly higher costs (and at a great deal more risk to their physical safety as well.

If you'd like to know more about payday cash advance then click through that link.

Disclosure Policy.

Sherry Enemas

Now I know there are people who say they're dying for a drink but it's rather rarer (although of course not unknown) for people to die from actually having one.

But what if you're both a lover of alcohol and also have a throat complaint that means you can't drink the alcohol? Yes, you guessed it, stick in the body another way!

Charges have been dropped against a Texas woman who was accused of giving her husband a sherry enema that killed him, the prosecutor in the case said on Wednesday.

Tammy Jean Warner had been scheduled to face trial for negligent homicide in the May 2004 death of Michael Warner, 58, but Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne said the charges were dismissed a month ago for lack of evidence.

The dead man had had "a severe alcohol issue" and it was not clear his wife had committed a crime, Yenne said in a telephone interview.

The thing is, the lower gut allows alcohol into hte bloodstream just as much as the upper one does:

At the time of Warner's indictment in 2005, police told the Houston Chronicle the woman had given her husband two large bottles of sherry, which raised his blood alcohol level to 0.47 percent, or nearly six times the level considered legally drunk in Texas.

Yup, that'll kill you alright.

Finding the Right Credit Card

There are so many different issuers, with so many different offers, that it can be extremely difficult to work out which is the right Credit Card for you. Fortunately, there are peple who can help here (click through to see them!).

The thing is, you need to know what is it that you actually want from a Credit Card . Is it that you have bead credit? Or do you want a low interest rate on carried balances? Or a zero interest rate on balance transfers? Perhaps you pay off your card in full each month, meaning that you'd rather get cashback. Or maybe Air Miles or points?

There are so many of these options that to find the right Credit Card you might want to use a specialist search engine: and that's just what you'll find whn you click through that link.


Borrow Your Condoms

Not really what you'd think of as normal proactice, it has to b said. Condoms are normally though of as use once and throw away items rather than things that are passed around. However, on Thai bank has a different idea:

A Thai bank is pitching into the battle against HIV/AIDS and handing out condoms to customers too shy to get them at the shop.

Despite Bangkok's reputation as one of the world's sex industry centers, Thailand is a generally conservative country.

Kasikorn Bank launched the "Condoms for Confidence" campaign at 600 branches nationwide and said it would start giving out the sheaths, branded K-Condom and K-Excellence, later this month.

So it's not quite that you're borrowing a condom, it's that when you borrow money you get some. Seems suitable that it's with car loans too as the car is indeed where so much of the sex goies on.

Saving with Coupons

With the holiday season approaching I need to get things sorted: who is going to get what as a present for which holiday this year. Being the skinflint that I am (read, sensible person husbanding resources) the one thing I don't want to have to do is pay full price for anything. What I do want is to get the maximum that I can for my money so that the present is the best that I can indeed get for what I can spend.

Which brings us to coupons and . While I know where to save money in a bricks and mortar store (by clipping coupons out of the paper) where can I find the same sort of savings online? Well, at obviously.

For example, look here at Dell coupons. At the moment there's a $350 off certain Inspiron desktops. Well, the wife does indeed want a new computer so that's one decent saving made. In fact, enough of a saving that I can also get herthe other things she wants which is a new handbag (I know, terribly romantic with gifts we are in this household). And have a look here at Zappo online discounts. I can get free shipping on that handbag, saving yet more money.

În fact, that's enough savings for me to be able to get the pets (two dogs and nine cats) something using the Petco coupons. Hey, who knew saving money was so easy?

Coffin Sales and Murders

This rather surprises me. In fact, it really rather astonishes me. Wouldn't police routinely monitor such things? Wouldn't funeral directors regularly call the police when something odd like this happens?

Colombian police were tipped off Monday to the early morning murders of eight cocaine laboratory workers when relatives of the victims showed up at an undertaker in a southern town asking for coffins.

"We did not find out about this until they came to a funeral home and asked for eight caskets. That drew our attention," Putumayo province police commander Harold Lara told Reuters.

Seriously, it boggles the mind a bit to find out that this is not done routinely. Can you just pitch up and buy 8 coffins without that phone call to the police?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Getting rid of Termites

One thing that you'll want tomake sure never happens to you is a termite infestation. Have a look at these photos of termites to see what nasty little beggars they are. It's not just their looks of course: they will, if left alone, quite literally eat your house out from underneath you.

To stop this from happening here's a great website, Kill The Termites, with tips on how to check to see if you have them, how to prevent infestation and what to do if they're already there. Toroughly recommended.

Disclosure Policy.

Not Everyone Wants to Break Up

Lots of talk recently about how Belgium is about to break up: and good riddance too. It was only created in the 1830s as a way to annoy France anyway (something it's been doing successfully since then which would be one reason that it would be a shame if it went missing). However, not everyone is happy about the idea:

A growing debate about the potential division of Belgium has led to a surge in sales of Belgian flags as opponents of separatism seek to display their patriotism.

Belgians are accustomed to flying the black-yellow-red tricolor on the king's birthday, July 21, but in recent weeks far more flags have been hung from windows and balconies, particularly in the capital, Brussels.

"In the last couple of weeks sales have tripled. I'd say we've sold two, three, four hundred flags and it's private individuals we are seeing coming in," said Walter Michiels, who owns a business selling flags in Brussels.

Kristel Cartentier of flag and print business Artemis said she too had noted a tripling of sales.

"People are coming in saying they want to show their support for Belgian unity," she said.

The national anthem, the Brabanconne, has also become the most downloaded tune for use as a mobile phone ring -- among French-speaking Belgians.

Two things are worth noting. The country has been without a Government for over 100 days now and you know what? Life goes on. Wish this would start a trend.

The other is that it's the Walloons, the French speakers, who are buying the flags. As they are subsidized by their richer, Flemish, compatriots, this might really be just cupbaord love, don't you think?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sometimes, Just Sometimes...

....they let the subeditors out to play.

A German factory worker stole over a million screws from his employer and skewed the market with his cheap stolen goods, police said Friday.

"In the end, it became obvious that screws were being sold for much less than they usually cost," said a spokesman for police in the southern city of Wuerzburg.

Over two years, the 33-year-old assembly plant worker smuggled between 2,000 and 7,000 screws out of work each night, and auctioned them on an Internet site, police said. The scheme cost his firm around 110,000 euros ($156,000).

The man confessed after officers raided his home.

The subeditors by the way are the people who check spelling and grammar: and also write the headlines. There's not much in this story that merits it being flashed aroundthe world on hte Reuters network.....except for the opportunity for this headline:

Thief nailed selling a million stolen screws

As I say, sometimes they let them out to play.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Britney Pictures

I was looking around for a good source of Britney Spears pictures and I'm glad to be able to say that I've found one.

Not just pictures in fact, but news articles, video feeds, in fact, everything you might want to know about Britney Spears.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Housing Insurance

Well, we all know that we need to have house insurance, yes? Don't forget that it covers a great deal more than just the house itself: although if that does fall over then you'd want to make sure that someone was paying for it. You can also add your contents to it and so on, even, with certain policies, things that would normally be in the house but that you take out of it. All protected against theft and fire and so on.

So far so good, but who should you buy it from? Well, why not the Co-Op? In fact, there's two very good reasons why you should buy your house insurance from them. The first is that they are ethically based, so they deal with their suppliers and customers in an entirely forthright and honest manner. The second is that they are a mutual, meaning that they share the profits with the members and customers.

Over and above all that they've also got some of the best rates on the market. Click through above to see what they can do for you.

Disclosure Policy.


Oh dear, Reuters really are behind the times on this one:

If you are in Sudan it is a 'missed call'. In Ethiopia it is a 'miskin' or a 'pitiful' call. In other parts of Africa it is a case of 'flashing', 'beeping' or in French-speaking areas 'bipage'.

Wherever you are, it is one of the fastest-growing phenomena in the continent's booming mobile telephone markets -- and it's a headache for mobile operators who are trying to figure out how to make some money out of it.

You beep someone when you call them up on their mobile phone -- setting its display screen briefly flashing -- then hang up half a second later, before they have had a chance to answer. Your friend -- you hope -- sees your name and number on their list of 'Missed Calls' and calls you back at his or her expense.

It is a tactic born out of ingenuity and necessity, say analysts who have tracked an explosion in miskin calls by cash-strapped cellphone users from Cape Town to Cairo.

"Its roots are as a strategy to save money," said Jonathan Donner, an India-based researcher for Microsoft who is due to publish a paper on "The Rules of Beeping" in the high-brow online Journal of Computer Mediated Communication in October.

Really, really behind the times. The whole pehnomenon was discussed in great detail in Michaela Wrong's "In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz", an excellent book on the fall of Mobutu in Zaire. From, err, May 2001.

How excellent, don't you think? The world's premier newswire only 6.5 years behind the publishing industry. Even better, I think Wrong was a stringer for Reuters when she actually wrote the book.

How Many Maids?

What were these maids doing wrong? Or was it rather what were the employers doing wrong?

Hong Kong Canto-pop star Jacky Cheung has been banned from hiring any more maids from the Philippines after firing 21 in three years, a newspaper said on Thursday.

Cheung and his wife, former actress May Lo, were placed on a "blacklist of sub-standard employers" maintained by the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong after hiring and firing 21 maids in three years, the South China Morning Post reported.

His track record has earned him the nickname of the "the terminator" within the local Filipino community.

Joel Blas, an assistant national officer at the Philippines consulate, was quoted as saying his consul-general had met Lo last week to explain she'd "not be allowed to hire any helpers from the Philippines for one year."

The thing is here that in order to hire one of the Fillippina maids you also have to organise her work permit. So if you're on this register of people who are not alowed to offer a work permit, then you're not going to be able to hire a maid, either.

Unless, of course, youhire on illegally, without a work permit, or you hire a Chinese one....which means they'll have even less protection, doesn't it?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Furnishing the Outside of the House

As regular readers will know we're doing up this new (to us) house and as we'v got paast the first stage of the horrors of having the builders in it's about time we started thinking about decorating the outside of the house.

The first and most obvious thing we need is a new set of address plaques . The current ones proclaim the wrong family name (of course) and also the religion and football team preference of the previous owner. We also need a new mailbox (which the same company can provide) as the old one is a) falling off the wall and b) has had rats nesting in it.

Excuse me while I go back there and see what else they've got that we need :-)

Disclosure Policy.

Killing With a Kiss

Wow, this is one jealous woman:

A Chinese woman who killed her lover with a rat poison-laced kiss when she suspected him of being unfaithful has been sentenced to death, a newspaper said Thursday.

Xia Xinfeng, from Maolou in the central province of Henan, passed a capsule with rat poison from her mouth to her long-time lover, Mao Ansheng, during a kiss, the Shanghai Daily said.

Mao swallowed the capsule and died soon afterwards.

"The couple had said that if either one of them cheated on the other, he or she would have to die," the paper said in explaining the mouth-to-mouth assault.

Xia found Mao had been "talking" with another woman and deemed that he had broken their promise.

Talking with another woman is enough for her to murder you?

It's not as if sho wouldn't have known what was likely to happen either. China executes more than any other country: and does it in public too. A bullet to hte back of the head. Fortunately, they no longer bill the family of those execusted for the bullets.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Booking Hotels

Here's another entrant in the growing field of hotel booking sites. As I'm sure you know there's a number around and the competition is meaning that each participant is having to raise his game: to the great benefit of us consumers, of course.

This site, EasyToBook, is certainly easy to navigate fact the whole process is really very easy to use indeed. They're also not reginally bound: they offer the opportunity to book all around the world. Here's their London hotels page, their Prague hotels page and their hotels in Barcelona page.

They also go into quite some detail about the individual hotels. Here's the write up on a New York hotel and here's another one on a hotel in Dublin.

All in all it looks like a very useful site and it certainly is very easy to use, as they promise.

He'll Never Hear the End of This One

Nope, this one will stay with this agent for the rest of his natural:

Three Mexican minors detained in California on suspicion of smuggling drugs stole a U.S. Border Patrol car while still wearing handcuffs and drove it back across the border to Mexico.

Police in the Mexican border city of Mexicali said on Tuesday the three boys had been driving a pick-up truck on a remote Californian highway when a Border Patrol agent stopped them.

Suspicious they were carrying marijuana, he handcuffed them and put them in his patrol car while he searched their truck.

"As the agent was doing his search, he left the vehicle running and the keys in the ignition, so one of the lads, still wearing handcuffs, grabbed the steering wheel and they headed back to Mexico," a police spokesman said.

No, they haven't found the kids either. That agent, I'd love to be able to ask him: "Just what were you smoking?". Seriously, leaving a car going, with the keys in it, while you've got three suspects in it?

Going Today

This is an interesting variation on selling overthe web. Instead of having a warehouse full of different things offers just one item each and every day (well, many different copies of the same item actually). They're usually biased towards the music geek and can be paid for with a PayPal account.
So instead of thinking about what you want and then going searching fo it, they've turned the whole concept on its head. You go there every day and see whether the apotheosis of musical geekness they have today is something they want.
It's a very interesting way of turniong a shopping site into a buzz destination.
Very much worth checking out.

Disclosure Policy.

Early Morning Barmaids

Now I will admit that I've felt like I have drunk this stuff before, but that's usually the morning after that I feel so.

An Australian "prankster" barmaid who served a patron a shot of disinfectant has appeared in court over what her lawyers said was a "misguided" joke.

Melbourne barmaid Emily Craig, 23, served a client a single 30ml shot glass of Pine-O-Cleen disinfectant in March during a 6 a.m. drinking bout at Evolution Nightclub, causing him to become violently ill, the Melbourne Magistrates court was told.

In fact, I've been in some parts of the world where the local rotgut tastes like that and has a very similar effect while drinking it.

Still, I think it gives the manufacturers of Pine-O-Clean an opportunity for an advertising campain. What do you think..."Pine-O-Clean, worse than Gin"?

Tattoo Lovers' Dating

It looks like the ever greater specialisation of the dating market carries on. Here's a site devoted solely to tattoo dating, yes, that's right, called Tattoo Lovers it caters to those who love tattoos and the people who have them. If you prefer, it's a site for tattoo personals. (Which, I have to admit, rather reminds me of the old pick up line....I'll show you my tattoo if you'll show me yours).

The site is clean and easy to navigate, has all the usual abilities and options, like geographic search and so on. The only difference to a more regular dating site is that everyone there either has tattoos or likes people who do have them.

If that's what you're into then it looks like an excellent place to go visit.

Disclosure Policy.

What Not To Say To Your Wife

Well, there are any number of things that you really shouldn't say to your wife but thi one was remarkably stupid:

Malaysian doctors have reattached a man's nearly severed penis after his first wife, enraged by his comparison of her sex skills with those of his younger second wife, decided to chop it off with a kitchen knife.

The man, a 43-year-old Indonesian worker in southern Johor state, was lying in bed with his 48-year-old wife talking about his newly wed second wife, who is in her 30s, when the incident happened, the New Straits Times newspaper reported.

You don't talk about anyone's sex skills when you're in bed with a third person for goodness sake! More than that, hubby should ponder for a moment: where did this new wife get those excellent sex skills then?

Visiting the Perth International Arts Festival

If youshould find yourself looking for a reaon to visit Oz might I recommend the Perth International Arts Festical? As their site states:

The Perth International Arts Festival is the oldest annual international multi-arts festival in the southern hemisphere and annually offers some of the world’s best theatre, music, film, visual arts, street arts, literature and free community events. No single art genre, concert, performance or exhibition series can cover the breadth of intellectual and imaginative territory of the Perth Festival, nor reach as broadly into the community. For two generations of locals, summer in Perth without the Festival is simply unimaginable.

That's pretty good going, lasting that long. It's only a few years younger than the Edinburgh Festical, which is the Northern Hemisphere's equivalent.

Now if you are indeed going to make such a trip you'll need information on hotels in Perth so click through there to see what you can get.

Of course, if you're going to travel all that way to Oz you might as well have a look around the rest of the country too. To aid there here's hotels in Adelaide and Melbourne accomodation. Something you should note about all of those accomodation sites. They don't just handle last minute or cheap hotel bookings,they can also offer shared apartments and so on, which can be a much cheaper way of dealing with things if you're travelling in a group.

Airport Advertising

As if we didn't get enough advertising at airports already:

Advertisers aiming to reach high-flyers with no alternative distraction will soon have a new method: adverts the size of three football pitches seen by plane passengers coming in to land.

UK-based Ad-Air launched its new service in London on Tuesday, offering brands the chance to place huge adverts near the runways of some of the world's busiest runways.

Ad-Air, backed by 5 million pounds ($10 million) of private equity finance, said it had spent five years securing sites around the world's busiest airports including London Heathrow, Paris, Geneva, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Abu Dhabi.

This isn't the same as those people who cut a pattern into a field near a runway, no, these will be powered and lit.

Sheesh: going through an airport these days is nothing but advertising, isn't it? We really need more?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Biker Dating

One of the things I love about this grand new world of the web and the intarwebs is the way in which things that previously didn't make economic sense now do.

Take the dating market for example. At one time you would date those you met through family or friends or perhaps (very perhaps) look at the personals section of the newspaper. Now specialist dating sites are springing up all of the web and they're all targetted. That's the bit that didn't make economic sense before. For example, one city wouldn't be large enough to support a magazine carrying biker personals.

Now however there's a site dedicated to nothing but biker dating. It's a very good site too, got all the regular functionality, it's easy to use: it's just that everyone on it is either a biker or interested in bikers. If that's what you're into, highly recommended.

Disclosure Policy.

Shane Warne and Simone Callahan

Looks like Shane Warne's been caught cheating on Simone Callahan again:

The wife of former Australian cricket champion Shane Warne says their marriage reconciliation is over after he mistakenly sent her an incriminating text message.

Simone Callahan, who reunited last December with the spin bowler known also for his womanizing, told a woman's magazine she caught Warne cheating on her while he was in London.

As Callahan got the couple's three children ready for school in Melbourne, a text dropped into the inbox of her mobile phone, she told New Idea magazine.

"Hey beautiful, I'm just talking to my kids, the back door's open," the message from Warne said.

"You loser, you sent the message to the wrong person," Callahan sent back.

She told the magazine the message confirmed her suspicions that Warne was again cheating on her and that his lover had been to their London home before.

But the thing I don't get is this: what on earth was Callahan doing? You don't go ou and marry some alpha male thinking tht he's going to be faithful. More to the point, someone with a reputation for putting it about for a bit: what are you doing leaving him on the other side of the world?

I just don't get it.