Monday, 31 October 2005

DVD of ClarissaAmazon's 'Recommended For You' system has gotten more interesting because it now tells you (or at least gives you an idea) why the items in the list have been recommended. Interesting, therefore, to see that the DVD of 'Clarissa' has been recommended to me because I have previously bought the book "Andy McNab's Bravo Two Zero". The link is not, as you might expect, that the "magnificent drama of seducation and betrayal" features close-quarter battle scenes or a heli-bourne assault on a country house, but simply because Sean Bean features in the DVD and was in the TV dramatisation of the book.

Friday, 28 October 2005

"Iran leader defends Israel remark
Iran's president has defended his widely criticised call for Israel to be 'wiped off the map'. Attending an anti-Israel rally in Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his remarks were 'just' - and the criticism did not 'have any validity.'

Red rag/bull scenario, anyone?

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iran leader defends Israel remark

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

"Doctor Who takes three TV awards
BBC series Doctor Who has won three prizes at the National TV Awards, including most popular drama. The show's two stars, Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, scooped the most popular actor and actress honours in the awards voted by the public.

Well done to all involved - it certainly was an impressive series. I hope Eccleston now realises what an ejit he's been for quitting.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Doctor Who takes three TV awards

"Cabinet agrees England smoke ban
Ministers have agreed plans for a ban on smoking in enclosed public places in England - with exemptions for clubs and pubs not serving food.

Better than no ban at all, I suppose, but still pretty pathetic considering the majority of the British public want it banned in all public places. How many Ministers and MPs, I wonder, have big shareholdings in the tobacco companies? This is just like their pathetic record on trying to reduce binge drinking - instead of reducing or contolling opening hours, they open the pubs for longer. Shares in the breweries, perhaps? Between my last two visits to Italy, they had brought in a total ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants: there were no problems with it at all - its just been accepted.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Cabinet agrees England smoke ban

And more on how naff this new legislation is: BBC NEWS | Health | Why UK differs on smoke ban policy

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Luton airport - photo © BBCThe owners of Luton airport appear to be turning to psycological bribery to get their expansion plans approved, saying they will be in place "in time for the 2012 Olympics". Atheletes from around the world: which airport are you going to fly to? Heathrow or Luton. Mmm.

"Passenger numbers are set to triple over the next 25 years [not sure there's going to be any oil left by then] as plans for a new full-length runway and a new south terminal at Luton Airport have been unveiled. Existing facilities will also be expanded, with most of the work being completed by the end of 2007, but planning permission still needs to be granted for the proposals."

BBC - Beds Herts and Bucks - Luton airport: new plans unveiled

Thursday, 20 October 2005

My mobile phone number migration has finally completed. I noticed that the old phone was displaying an IMEI message yesterday morning, so I could tell they'd started work. By lunchtime, the 'new' phone was able to send texts and make calls, but wouldn't accept incoming calls and couldn't send MMS messages. This morning, all appears to be OK. So, thanks to O2 and Vodafone.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

The G-Wiz electric carEU blocks green research and funding
UK drivers are being denied grants to help them buy environmentally-friendly [read 'less environmentally damaging'] cars because of legal wrangling by Brussels. Grants of £700-1000 were supposed to have been made available from 1997, but it was found that they broke EU competition rules. Meanwhile researchers have had the funding for five out of six green transport projects blocked by the EU.

Souce: Emma Rubach, The Big Issue.
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Tuesday, 18 October 2005

"A church is having to pay £1,300 to replace four 80p light bulbs because of new health and safety laws. The EU's 'working at height' directive meant a full risk assessment had to be carried out and a scaffolding tower brought in to reach the bulbs. Parish priest at St Benet's Minster in Beccles, Suffolk, Father Anthony Sutch, said the job used to cost about £200. He said the money - a sixfold increase - could have been better spent on a few lives somewhere else in the world."

Is this the sort of "benefit" Ted Heath could see for Britain when he originally signed us up for Europe? Well-meaning legislation, perhaps, but obviously proposed by someone who has absolutely no thought, or regard, for the consequences.

BBC NEWS | England | Suffolk | Church pays £1,300 to see light
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The BBC News website is waving the "unprecedented access" flag this morning with another article on the Tornado Squadron at RAF Coningsby mentioned in last night's 10 O'Clock News broadcast. "Scrambling is an adrenalin-charged sprint - unchanged since the Battle of Britain. The fighters are weapons of last resort - fed by intelligence [hopefully a bit better than that which led to the police shooting of innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes] and backed up by a huge counter-terrorism operation on the ground."

BBC NEWS | UK | Stark option in frontline terror fight

Monday, 17 October 2005

Tornado GR-4 photo copyright Royal Air ForceMust be a 'slow day' for news today. The lead item on BBC's main news programme this evening is a very sensationalist article about an RAF Tornado squadron tasked with intercepting, escorting and, if necessary, shooting down commercial airliners that appear to be acting suspiciously, presented by veteran reporter Brian Hanrahan. The whole thing was so gung-ho, with lots of dramatic commentary and camera work, I could hardly believe my ears - it sounded more like ITV's dire 'Tonight with Trevor Macdonald'. I quite thought Hanrahan was going to quote Churchill. The presenter made much of the fact that the BBC had been given 'exclusive access', as if that should be important to the viewer. And the same news programme finishes with an article about the latest film from director Ang Lee.

A quick survey of people driving with no lights at all in this morning's thick fog reveals most to be women - some taking kids to school. On the other hand, of those driving with just side lights, most were men. Is road safety not an issue to these people? Does it not matter to them if their vehicles are visible to others?

Highway Code section 201: You MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced

Friday, 14 October 2005

Northampton 1 Oxford 0

The Cobblers at last won a home game - and ended an 8-game winning streak by League 2 rivals Oxford United on Friday.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Philips C12 mobile phoneFinally gotten around to arranging to have my mobile phone number transferred from my museum-piece Philips C12 on 02 (was BT Cellnet) to a Nokia 6230 on Vodafone. Half the work is finding the numbers you need to call, then going through the spiel from the old provider to jusitfy why you want to move. In the end the numbers I called were:

02 - 08705 214 000
Vodafone - 08080 945945

I hardly use my mobile to make calls, so I only top up with about £10 every three months - just saying that was enough to make the providers realise that a contract was not for me.

Monday, 10 October 2005

"Network Rail in £4bn revamp plan
Network Rail has announced plans for a £4bn ($7bn) upgrade to railway stations across Britain. The company said it planned to redevelop London's Euston, Victoria and Waterloo stations in partnership with companies from the private sector.

Network Rail, which is responsible for the UK's rail infrastructure, said that 50 larger regional stations were also in need of upgrade work. Developers will be involved in the revamp of hundreds of smaller stations.

Wow - investment in the UK's rail network. Whatever next?

BBC NEWS | Business | Network Rail in £4bn revamp plan

"Fire hits Wallace and Gromit sets
Props and sets from the Wallace and Gromit films are believed to have been destroyed in a warehouse blaze. Fire crews were called to Oscar-winning Aardman Animations' Bristol site, which contained the company's 'entire history', a spokesman said. Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park said it was 'dreadful' for the company but comparatively 'not a big deal'.

Rotten news having just successfully launched their latest movie onto the big screen.

BBC NEWS | England | Bristol | Fire hits Wallace and Gromit sets

Thursday, 6 October 2005

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Photo from flickrImperia station
Photo uploaded to flickr 6 Oct '05, 9.11am PST by hockeyshooter

We used buses and trains to get from Poggi to Nice Airport. The train journey was just 10 Euros a piece.

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Italian village near ImperiaMore rain means the Alpine Trail is definately not on the cards. Went instead for a long road walk in the wooded hills. Dinner at the same excellent restaurant down by the sea, to have their unique thin pizza filled with a special soft cheese and topped with Parma ham. Lorezno finally lets us pay for his meal.

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

River near TurinA very early start as we set off to visit, near Turin, a contact Lorenzo has made in his search for sponsorship for next year's attempt at the summit of Everest. Unfortunately Lorenzo fills the tank of his diesel car with petrol, so we need a hasty visit to the garage to have the tank emptied. Some very nice scenery, spoilt by almost constant rain.

Monday, 3 October 2005

ValloriaMore rain over night and a very dull-looking morning which prevent another journey into the hills. Instead went to the Valloria, AKA the 'Village of the Painted Doors', where nearly ever door is painted by a different artist in a different style (photo gallery coming soon). Revisited small cafe on beach for lunch in the pooring rain - got to test my next-to-non-existant Italian. Mobile phone battery running flat, so no more Flikr photos for a bit.

Sunday, 2 October 2005

Marathon Man on DVDRained over night. Late start after another reasonable night's sleep. Visited Lorenzo's GF's tiny and remote village up in the hills. Hunted for wild mushrooms in the woods, but nearly all had already been picked. Collect huge bag of chestnuts instead. Sandwich lunch on return. Mark and I raided the cupboards back at home base to make a passable pasta dinner. Watched Marathon Man (Dustin Hoffman) on DVD - actually a very good movie, with some exceptional cinematography.

Saturday, 1 October 2005

Late rise after passable night's sleep - must be getting used to the bells. A few mosquito bites. Second visit to the Orchid Trail above Cervo; visited the church, which is still undergoing restoration, then lunch in the same cafe I've been to on each visit now, watching some of the airshow over the coast. Lorenzo's girlfriend cooked a seafood dinner, which I was unable to do justice to.

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Photo from flickrLooking at the Med
Photo uploaded to flickr 1 Oct '05, 1.32pm PST by hockeyshooter

...from the Orchid Trail above Cervo.

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Photo from flickrPalm tree
Photo uploaded to flickr 1 Oct '05, 1.28pm PST by hockeyshooter coastal town of Imperia.