Friday, 30 September 2005

Spent most of the day in the coastal town of Imperia. Explored the old town and harbour and walked back up the hill to Poggi. Went with Lorenzo's girl friend to a 'fixed menu' restaurant in an old water mill - many and varied dishes including wild boar salami. Avoided the snails, though. Plenty of outstanding local white wine.

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Photo from flickrImperia
Photo uploaded to flickr 30 Sep '05, 3.59pm PST by hockeyshooter

Sadly this good weather did not last and we had rain over the last three days.

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Photo from flickrCloisters
Photo uploaded to flickr 30 Sep '05, 3.57pm PST by hockeyshooter


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Photo from flickrCat
Photo uploaded to flickr 30 Sep '05, 12.03pm PST by hockeyshooter

You can't go anywhere in Italy without encountering cats.

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Photo from flickrView from the roof...
Photo uploaded to flickr 30 Sep '05, 7.56am PST by hockeyshooter

...of the house we were staying in in the tiny village of Poggi, just up from Imperia.

Thursday, 29 September 2005

Worrying start to our Italian holiday as the half-hourly bus to Luton Airport fails to appear - twice (thanks for nothing, Arriva). Fortunately were able to get a lift instead. easyJet flight was ok (I don't like flying) and although takeoff was 1/2 hour late, made up some time during flight. Dinner at the very nice restaurant in Cervezza above Poggi - mostly sea food. Poor night's sleep, mostly due to the two nearby churches chiming on the half hour.

Saturday, 24 September 2005

Another pathetic performance from the Cobblers gave Cheltenham three points at Northampton today. Although we had a good percentage of the possession in the first half, we were never much of a threat, and the second half, where most of the time we were 1-2 down, was even worse. Methinks the days of manager Colin Calderwood must be numbered.

Friday, 23 September 2005

Capital punishment claim 'absurd'
The home secretary has described as 'absurd' claims the shooting of [innocent Brazilian] Jean Charles de Menezes amounted to a form of 'capital punishment'. Labour's Ann Cryer said MPs had voted against capital punishment and been unaware of 'a policy under certain circumstances deliberately to kill'.

But Charles Clarke said, in replying to those comments on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'I think that comparison is completely absurd... The shoot to kill policy simply does not exist - there is no such thing.'

That's strange because I was sure the MET commissioner confirmed, on television, that such a policy did exist and that it had been suspended as a result of the shooting.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Capital punishment claim 'absurd'

Suspicious behaviour on the tube
A London underground station was evacuated and part of a main east-west line closed in a security alert on Thursday, three weeks after suicide bombers killed 52 people on the transport network, police said. This Reuters story was written while the police were detaining me [Guardian writer David Mery] in Southwark tube station and the bomb squad was checking my rucksack. When they were through, the two explosive specialists walked out of the tube station smiling and commenting: 'Nice laptop.' The officers offered apologies on behalf of the Metropolitan police. Then they arrested me...

Its worth reading the whole of this article, especially if you're one of the sheep that keep bleeting "if you've got nothing to hide, what's the problem?". All the guy was doing was going home from work. It goes to show how much our civil liberties have already been eroded in the wake of Iraq and the London bombings - just think how much more they would be if Home Secretary Charles Clarke had a free reign?

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Suspicious behaviour on the tube

"...a survey by Lawrence & Giles found that, of the 15 terabytes of data that made up the estimated 800 million pages of the publicly indexable Web in February 1999, only 6 terabytes (40%) contained useful text after removing HTML tags, comments, and white space."

Proof, if it were ever needed, that most of what's on the web really is junk.

Articles: Metadata and the World Wide Web

Do search engines represent an invasion of your privacy? Do you know if the company you use to run your web searches store the information you enter, or the URLs of the pages you choose to visit, together with your IP address, so they can build up a profile of what you're interested in? Supposing you conduct a number of searches, using the computer in your office, to get information about a particular debilitating disease, say MS or AIDS. The fact that you've done those searches could well be of interest, and value, to your employer, or your life insurance company. Is there anything to prevent the search company from selling that information on? And what about search companies that are hosted in other countries? Are those companies obliged to pass on the terms and/or results of your searches to the Government of those countries?

Do you ever read the small print on your favoured search engine's website? Perhaps you might like to do so now?
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Thursday, 22 September 2005

"Passengers saw landing drama unfold on TV
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- The airliner circled Southern California for hours, crippled by a faulty landing gear, while inside its cabin 140 passengers watched their own life-and-death drama unfolding on live television.

While satellite TV sets aboard JetBlue Flight 292 were tuned to news broadcasts, some passengers cried. Others tried to telephone relatives and one woman sent a text message to her mother in Florida attempting to comfort her in the event she died. 'It was very weird. It would've been so much calmer without the televisions', Pia Varma of Los Angeles said after the plane skidded to a safe landing Wednesday evening in a stream of sparks and burning tires. No one was hurt.

The nose gear had come down with the wheels locked at 90 degrees to their proper position, so when the A320 Airbus finally touched down, the tyres were instantly shredded and the poor thing scraped along on metal. Scary stuff - but it goes to show how well built modern jets are - and how good the crew are at dealing with problems. I'm off to Italy next week - and I don't like flying one little bit! - Passengers saw landing drama unfold on TV - Sep 22, 2005

"Cow dung for the climate
A model biogas project is creating a win-win situation for rural Nepalese, the industrialised world and the atmosphere. The scheme recently won the renowned Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy and is already being replicated in some Asian and African countries.

It is calculated that gas generated from cattle dung in rural Nepal has lit around 140,000 kitchens, saving 400,000 tonnes of firewood, 800,000 litres of kerosene and preventing 600,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases from escaping into the atmosphere.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Cow dung for the climate
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Wednesday, 21 September 2005

"Aviation 'huge threat to CO2 aim'
If the rapid growth in air travel is not curbed UK households and businesses will have to cut carbon dioxide emissions to zero, a report has warned. The action is needed if the government aim of reducing emissions by 60% before 2050 is to be met, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research argues. It says ignoring aviation has led to a 'serious underestimation' of what is needed to combat climate change. Ministers say UK air passenger numbers will rise from 180m to 475m by 2030.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Aviation 'huge threat to CO2 aim'
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Friday, 16 September 2005

Strange, don't you think, that petrol prices are going down today when at the same time, oil has reached another price-per-barrel record?

"Killer 'triple burp' of methane caused massive global warming
Open University researchers have uncovered startling new evidence about an extreme period of a sudden, fatal dose of global warming some 180 million years ago during the time of the dinosaurs. The scientists' findings could provide vital clues about climate change happening today and in the future. The OU Department of Earth Sciences team, PhD student Dave Kemp and supervisors Drs. Angela Coe and Anthony Cohen, along with Dr. Lorenz Schwark of the University of Cologne, discovered evidence suggesting that vast amounts of methane gas were released to the atmosphere in three massive 'methane burps' or pulses. The research done by The Open University scientists is published in full by Nature magazine on 15 September 2005.

OU News Releases | Methane burp
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Wednesday, 14 September 2005

"Google unveils blog search site
Google has unveiled a website that lets people search web journals or blogs. The database behind the search site will index all weblogs not just the ones published on the Google-owned blog writing site Blogger.

There are already some search engines, or at least index or tag searches (like Technorati) specifically aimed at blogs, but this tool may well take over.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Google unveils blog search site

Firefox logo"How To Speed Up Firefox
Here's something for broadband people that will really speed Firefox up...

I've not found Firefox particularly slow myself, but obviously some people have, and the suggested changes are easy to make.

How To Speed Up Firefox

Tuesday, 13 September 2005

"German minister raps car industry
German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin has condemned his country's carmakers for making 'gas-guzzlers' that no-one wants to buy. Speaking to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Mr Trittin urged carmakers to produce more fuel-saving cars. In the past, the member of the environmentalist Green Party has pressed car companies to adopt stricter environmental standards. His comments came as German luxury car firm Porsche announced record sales.

Well said, that man, but I am surprised he can say "no-one wants to buy" and "Porsche" in the same speech since there is a waiting list for the new Boxster. Instead, why not target Mercedes for making 5.5-litre cars that return as little as 19.1 mpg overall, and just 12.2mpg in city driving (figures from Mercedes own website)?

BBC NEWS | Business | German minister raps car industry

"Petrol fuels rise in UK inflation
Rising petrol prices drove inflation higher in August, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures have shown. UK consumer price index (CPI) inflation rose to 2.4% in August from 2.3% in July, the highest level since current records
[meaning the current way they make up this figure] began eight years ago. It is the second month running that inflation has been higher than the 2% target set by the government."

Strange that petrol at all my local stations has gone up around 4% in just one week, and yet the official inflation figure only goes up 0.1% in a month. Considering pretty much everything we buy is delivered using petrol, that doesn't really stand up, does it?

BBC NEWS | Business | Petrol fuels rise in UK inflation
I'd not heard of this before. Just goes to show quite a few Americans don't share Bush gung-ho attitude.

Arlington West

Photo above shows "Santa Monica beach, just up from the posh, affluent Malibu (where, incidentally, you can get a great Caesar salad ..... in the McDonalds!! :)) I was quite amazed that they were allowed to do this. ... hundreds of crosses, covering a large part of the beach. Each cross represents one American life lost in Iraq. Another plaque tells you, 'if we were to acknowledge the number of Iraqi deaths, the crosses would fill this entire beach'. There's a coffin draped in the stars 'n' stripes, which a couple people 'stand guard' over, while a woman stands there, reading out their names." Frances Foot

"Debt insurance being 'mis-sold'
Payment protection insurance is available on credit cards and loans
Banks and insurers have been accused by Citizens Advice of mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI). PPI is designed to help people repay personal loans or credit card debt if they fall ill or lose their jobs. But charity Citizens Advice said PPI is expensive, often sold to people who do not need it and regularly excludes common reasons for making a claim. The charity is to lodge a "super complaint" with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) over the £5bn industry.

Citizens Advice said that 85% of its clients who had claimed on one of the policies had been unsuccessful, despite the industry claiming that just 15% of claims are turned down.

Breakfast News this morning featured a woman who had been sold PPI by her bank on a loan she was given because she'd just been made redundant. A year or so later, when she comes to claim because she has fallen ill, the bank says she can't claim because she is unemployed. So they knowingly mis-sold the insurance in the first place. And people wonder how the high street banks make their billions of pounds of profit.

BBC NEWS | Business | Debt insurance being 'mis-sold'

Sunday, 11 September 2005

Not at all sure I want to bother going to see the Cobblers play away to Rushden the week after next. In fact I have to consider whether I want to even go to home games, unless changes are made to the team. Its a 62 mile round trip on top of what I've already paid, to be rewarded with such a pathetic performance [Northampton 1 - Bury 1]. Bringing Eric Sabin on in the second have could have made a lot of difference, brought a bit more enthusiasm back into the team, but we go and sell him [to Oxford - where he scored in his debut game] just as Calderwood realises we're not scoring enough goals.

Thursday, 8 September 2005

Wallace and Gromit"Sydney premiere for Gromit movie
The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the first feature-length movie starring cartoon heroes Wallace and Gromit, received its world premiere on Sunday in Sydney.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Film | Sydney premiere for Gromit movie

The trailer is well worth watching but be prepared to laugh out loud.

"Autumn drought fears prompt talks
All residents are urged to continue saving water during the autumn
The prospect of low autumn rainfall has led to talks between four water firms and West Sussex County Council. Drought has tightened its grip on the whole of the South - and particularly in Kent and Sussex - after 10 consecutive months of low rainfall.

And the dipstick that is Prescott, deputy Prime Minister, still wants to build hundreds of thousands of houses in the South East.

BBC NEWS | England | Autumn drought fears prompt talks

Pants performance by England last night in the World Cup qualifier away to Northern Ireland. Rooney being an idiot again, lucky to not get sent off.

Monday, 5 September 2005

I completely missed the freestyle competition on Sunday, but young Lee Stone put on a little show of his own in the afternoon, having won the title of UK Champion.

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Sunday, 4 September 2005

Just blogging this as its a brilliant site:
The Rocking Vicar

Saturday, 3 September 2005

Willen Lake, just up the road from me in Milton Keynes, is hosting Round 6 of the UK National Jetski Championships this weekend and I was there this afternoon to get some shots. Weather was warm but sunshine unreliable, which certain affected the results. Will be back there tomorrow, where six of the UK's top freestyle riders will be performing.

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"Bolton thumbs nose at UN Millennium Goals
In his first official act as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton has already fulfilled his critics’ worst fears by delivering what many say may be a fatal blow to the United Nations World Summit.

Emblematic of the changes made was Bolton’s deletion of the phrase 'respect for nature' from the statement’s enumeration of core values and principles like human dignity and equality.

Also dropped from the U.S. version are commitments to uphold the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as any talk of nuclear disarmament by the world’s five nuclear powers. Bolton’s document eliminates the use of the word 'disarmament' and all references to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which would ban any nation from testing nuclear weapons.

Now, why am I not in the least bit surprised by this?

People's Weekly World Newspaper Online - Bolton thumbs nose at UN Millennium Goals

Welwyn vs Northampton

The Cobblers were very lucky to go away from Friday evening's match with a point, having been reduced to 10 men by a somewhat strange refereeing decision. Northampton scored first with the Welwyn goalie mishandling the ball, which just rolled into the net behind him. Welwyn equalised about midway through the second half. The Cobblers are now down to a single striker in Scott Mcgleish, having lost Eric Sabin to Oxford United, and with Andy Kirk currently on the injury list.

Thursday, 1 September 2005

"UK, China in cleaner power plan
Britain and the EU will next week announce plans to hand China the technology for a power station designed to combat climate change. The coal plant will capture its own emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) and bury them in porous rock measures underground.

Interesting story. This is exactly the kind of technology-sharing Bush was so recently hailing as a 'breakthrough' - except without all the hoo-ha and flag-waving - we just got on and did it.

BBC NEWS | UK | UK, China in cleaner power plan
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