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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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....

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.