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Showing posts from January, 2010

Nice little earner

At the London summit this week on Afghanistan, £87m was set aside by world leaders to employ Taliban fighters in more productive activities. So if you're struggling in the UK recession and lacking in any financial support from the government, it might be a good idea to hop on a plane to Helmand. Taliban pay at the moment isn't great by Western standards, but you're given a free AK-47 and free run of local caves. Just wait for some civil servant to turn up with a chequebook.

Are you blind, referee?

Sky is set to broadcast a football match in 3D for the first time in UK pubs. I know that referees are frequently told they need glasses, but now I guess it's going to become more important than ever.

Trust no one.

I'm grateful to my Facebook friend Ann Godridge for a tip about a New Scientist article covering the history of communication with extra-terrestrial beings. Assuming the little green men to be interested in the humdrum carry-on that passes for daily life on Earth, we've been sending various messages out into space. Some of the communication has been the kind of thing you probably remember being reported on Blue Peter as a kid. Pictures, music, scientific proofs etc. I guess a whole load of noughts and ones too, because that's the kind of lingo those space people talk. Other messages have, on the other hand, been a little more eccentric. According to NS reporter Michael Marshall, there was once a research affiliate at MIT who had a rather unusual approach to intergalactic chat. As this is a family blog, I must spare you the detail, but the fellow in question thought it important for Mr Spock to hear sounds that revealed, shall we say, a rather intimate and carnal portr

Here today, swan tomorrow...

The news that two married swans have decided to divorce and find new partners has caused a stir at a wildlife sanctuary in Gloucestershire, England. It's certainly a worrying signal of avian moral decline. You would have thought they could have stayed together for the sake of the signets.

New TV channel makes me a little seasick

My TV remote has never ventured quite as far as Channel 888 on Sky, but if it did, I'd be settling down for a night of entertainment courtesy of Ocean Finance. Unbelievably, the high-profile broker - which is known for its seemingly unlimited advertising budget on daytime cable telly - now finally has a channel of its own. And on the associated website , you're able to get a flavour of the thrills that lie in store. Today's 20-minute clip features some stilted dialogue between a roving reporter and one of Ocean's mortgage advisors. After an interminable minute of animated type and music, the excitable pair get talking about right-to-buy schemes for council and housing association tenants. Here's a sample. INTERVIEWER: "Chris, what would you say is the most important document for right-to-buy customers?" MORTGAGE MAN: "It's got to be the Section 125 paperwork or 'offer to sell' as it's known in Scotland." INTERVIEWER: "Which

Prisons may soon open wide for dentists

The news today that officials intend to target white-collar tax evaders will be welcomed by anyone with a sense of social justice. After all, it's not only plumbers and roofers who are potentially on the fiddle. Doctors and dentists are apparently top of the hitlist being drawn up by Revenue & Customs. Initially, there will be a bizarre amnesty in which medics are encouraged to fess up to any untaxed cash they have hidden under an operating table. If they come forward before the end of March, they can cough up and get away with a relatively small fine. Woe betide anyone who fails to comply, however. Serial evaders might end up doing a seven in the Scrubs. This sounds pretty tough, to be honest. Harold Shipman only got 15 life sentences, after all, and he'd bumped off a couple of hundred old ladies. But issues of fairness aside, what will life be like in clink after a round-up of dental surgeons, gynaecologists and shrinks? Out in the yard, there's a commotion. Big Rick

Just floating an idea...

Milking it: leaflet celebrates continuous tradition of home deliveries I’ve been studying a promotional leaflet from a company called milk&more. It shows a street in which there are four milkmen – each celebrating a different era from the profession’s proud history. To the left, in scratchy sepia, we see a Victorian tradesman, complete with churn. To his right, there’s a wartime milko and also a chirpy chappie from the 1970s, who looks as if he might qualify for a lead role in a low-budget erotic movie. In glorious colour on the far right of the leaflet, we meet the modern-day delivery man, who is dressed in green and holding a milk&more branded crate. As you’d expect, this has more than just milk in it. There’s bread, Weetabix, Tropicana and all kinds. Today’s milkman has no hat, whereas all his predecessors believed professional headgear to be an important part of their image. This seems to me to be a depressing decline in standards over the years, but I’ll let it go. The th