29 June 2006

What A Final Score! This Is Not A Football Post!

First of all, I am happy to say that something does not exist. Not the Mongolian Death Worm, I still hold out hope for that. No, I can confirm that a universal credit score does not exist in the UK. That said, Equifax, one of the two massive credit checking companies in the UK (there is a third but it is minuscule), have their own internal score that they will pass to any company who ask them to do a credit check / scoring for them. It doesn't guarantee that the company will use it according to Equifax's rankings but it would be quite probable. Anyone can get their Equifax Score, just pay them £14.50. I don't imagine too many people rushing off to do that and that's where this post comes in...

This following information is basically a reconstituted version of the original version that Martin Lewis published on his excellent site Money Saving Expert .com. There is a company called Zopa who broker loans between normal people. You can join to either lend or borrow money. Of course, they need to know what credit risk you will be so when you register they give you of going to Equifax's website and calculating your credit score ... for free! You will have to answer about six questions which are all multiple choice such as "When did you open a credit card with Provider X? a) March 2005 to June 2005 ... e) None of the above". You will have to be 100% accurate or they will fail to recognise you. A score of over 400 puts you in the top half of the UK population and if you get in to the final group, above 475, that puts you together with only 30% of the population. To join Zopa you can register here and then after you've got your score you can see what it means from the explanation on Equifax's website.

24 June 2006

Less Isn't Best at M&S, the Grammatically Correct Supermarket

I was in the huge Marks and Spencer's store in The Gyle and at the checkouts I saw this wonderful sign. The word 'less' is used for single items, e.g. £100 or less – it's a binary choice, yes or no; or uncountable things, e.g. less money or less hair. Fewer is to be used with plural items, e.g. fewer pound coins or fewer hairs on his head. '£100' is a single item, it's not saying 100 lots of one pound notes (as this is written from Scotland). '10 items' is clearly countable as you have to count the number of items you have, although within that a four pack of beer counts as only one item. As you have to count single items up to reach the maximum of 10, then you have to say "10 items or fewer" - no discussion!

Asda got around it years ago by introducing the concept of relativity into supermarkets, but I haven't had a chance yet. On the subject of Asda I was there a few months ago and came over very ill. I needed to pay for the few things I had and get out of there quickly. I went to a 'hand baskets only' checkout, which in the business is used to take about 20 items or so, a bit bigger than the '10 items or fewer' ones. The very irritating cashier turned to me and said “this is for hand baskets” only to which I replied “I only have six items”. He refused to serve me so rather begrudgingly I took my six items out of the trolley right in front of him and placed them in a basket. He reluctantly served me and I was not amused. Yes I do have the knowledge of what that checkout is really for and refusing to serve be based on my method of carrying the items is not valid. If I simply carried my items to the checkouts in my hands would he have been consistent and said “you don't have a basket, go away”? I doubt it (although I can't be certain ;-)...

23 June 2006

I Discreetly Practise My Scales Discrete From My Piano Practice

I am very proud to add another new category to my site, “Word Play”. Although I've been providing little tit-bits here and there, including teaching my colleague the rarely used verb to grubble, it's now time to give a central store to all these useful insights. I posted a comment on a BBC blog and in it included the line “That's why all my posts contain correct apostrophe's”. The observant of you, including Degs who represents our Civil Service, will notice that in the word apostrophe there is a greengrocer's apostrophe, e.g. carrott's 20p. I thought it was very funny and I may even try to keep writing the plural of apostrophe with an incorrect apostrophe in it (although I may get bored of it very quickly or annoyed that no one notices it!). Hence, a new category.

If you look at the heading you'll find two spellings of the word “practice” - they are both correct. To practise anything, therefore using the word as a verb, means it is spelt with an s. When the word is used as a noun, e.g. piano practice, it is spelt with a 'c'. From a GCSE website: “Think noun therefore it ends in the noun ice”. Yes, 'ice' can be used as a verb but let's not complicate things. The same applies to the word 'licence' and 'license'. Ending 'se' is the verb, 'ce' the noun. Guess what happens in the US? They spell all four words with an 's'. Curious isn't it? You'd thought they'd have used a 'z'. At least they leave 'advice' and 'advise' as separate spellings, I'll leave you to work out what each word is to be used for.

I noticed in the preceding paragraph I noticed my use of 'an' before 's' and just wanted to clarify the rule. You simply need to use an 'an' when there is a vowel sound coming next. The single letter 's' is pronounced 'ess' so you need a vowel. Likewise an 'h' is pronounced 'aitch' and not 'haitch', thus needing an 'an'. Of course the most unknown word in this whole piece has to be 'discrete'. It means to keep separate. 'Discreet' on the other hand is the more well known homonym and is the one that means secret or private.

22 June 2006

What's The Point In That For?

Earlier this year I was returning back to Scotland, a short distance away from the border and I noticed the Shell petrol station has a very respectable 88.9p a litre. If you were travelling in the opposite direction however, i.e. you had the cheek to leave Scotland and go into England, then have to pay an incredible 10 pence per litre at the BP station. I'd risk it and run across the four motorway lanes with a big bucket! It's punishment enough having to leave Scotland in the first place...

The other petrol related issue that drives me crazy is the misuse of the period. The decimal place on a garage forecourt is for when they made “marginal” increases in petrol price - namely a half penny increase. It is categorically not for a cheap marketing trick so you can set all your pros at XX.9p. It's rather fortunate however that this custom will soon end when the average price of petrol finally breaks the one pound mark. Of course, when that happens the government will be getting an incredible 80 pence of pure duty! Most garages in Kos had the price as 111 cents per litre although some multinationals, notably BP, managed to get thinner numbers to do 108.9 – swines. They all could save them a lot of time, effort and staffing costs if they just put an odometer style gauge at the front of the forecourt so that the price of the petrol rose continually as a result of the company's stock price rising (yes, it's that way around).

If you want to beat the system you could do a lot worse than logging on to PetrolPrices.com to do a weekly search to find the nearest garage to you that is selling it a the lowest price locally. My local Shell is currently selling it for 91.9p per litre, a good deal down from the local average of 94.3p. Obviously though you only want to go to the cheapest station if you are passing near it, otherwise you'll destroy any saving you'd make.

21 June 2006

Well I've Just Come Down, from Stirling Town...

...And I had some fun, on the underground. The ladies turned their heads around, saying "Phillip where are your trousers?"

Well well well well. It seems, after years of being teased for being English and wearing a kilt, I am in fact Scottish. I'd previously used the Spatial Literacy website to analyse the data from the 1881 Cenus. That showed that almost all the Gillespies were living in Scotland, with the highest density around Stirling. They've since fixed the 1998 data and you can see while a few have moved down to England, the vast majority are still in Scotland; outsourcing their genes further across the country. There is a small pocket in the North West of England (yay!) and a few near Wales and London. I can now proudly wear my Macpherson tartan and call this land my home.

20 June 2006

Happy Birthday to PhillG.com; Happy Birthday to PhillG.com!

Yay! One year ago today, PhillG.com was finally re-launched! In the past year we have had 192 stories (10 of them back dated before the site officially opened), 154 comments and 8 brand new galleries added. That is over one post every two days and one comment every two and a half days! Thank you to the many hundreds of visitors to this site from far off places as Argentina, Philippines, People's Republic of Mao, China, Japan and Morocco as well as dozens from Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. AFAIK the only continent I haven't had a hit from yet is Antarctica and I know someone who can fix that (yes please Wiley Coyote).  We've even survived the "news" that this site was to close.  To celebrate the start of my second year in business, I've updated the theme of the site - it's now a mix of Rin and Pool and my own changes. I hope I can keep entertaining you with my thoughts, observations and sense of humour. Next week we get to celebrate 200 posts!

19 June 2006

What The Hell I Have Done? A Death Slide Doesn't Sound Too Safe...

Why did I click through those pages? Didn't I remember what curiosity did to the cat? I have now made a donation to the British Heart Foundation and agreed to try to raise a minimum of £100 for their excellent cause in the next four weeks. That's the very good part of what I've done. Oh yeah, I also have to be lifted up 100' in a rickety old crane and then jump off it and plummet to the ground for 170m on what is commonly known as a death slide. :-(

If you believe the British Heart Foundation is a worthwhile charity, or if you believe what I'm doing is dangerous enough to warrant a donation made to my charity of choice, then please follow the link and made a handsome deposit to try to prevent the biggest killer in Britain (that's heart disease & attacks, not death slides). Pictures and a report will of course be posted on the evening of Saturday 15th July.


18 June 2006

The World Cup Not In High Definition, In Matrix Vision!

Some people are sadly working during the World Cup games. The BBC offer several matches streaming from their website. They also claim that to receive them you have to have paid your licence fee. Hmm. I'm not receiving any signals on my PC by using a RF tuner, I'm simply downloading data. I would say that you do *not* need a licence fee to watch these transmissions. Of course, that only applies to UK residents who don't already have a TV as they need to pay the licence fee that way. If you were so scared by the BBC's threats is there anything else you could do? Yes there is and there are more people in the same boat as you. Imagine if you will you that you are a real computer programmer or geek, i.e. you don't use Windows. What if you've just buggered X or what if the server you have doesn't even have X installed? These two groups of people could then watch the World Cup in what can only be described as Matrix Vision. Simply type "telnet diego.ascii-wm.net 2006" or "telnet ascii-wm.net 2006" during a live game and watch the transmission absolutely live. To go interactive you have to take the red pill, otherwise take the blue pill.

17 June 2006

Wear Sunscreen. If The EU Could Fix One Label, Sunscreen Would Be It.

The EU are finally taking action to standardise the labelling on sun creams (the title is to make the reference to Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen). This pleases me no end as at the moment only the UVB level is marked on the front of the box. That is the SPF rating that prevents you from burning (UVB = Burning). The rating for UVA is a five star scale that is very difficult to find, sometimes impossible. Relatively recently it has been decreed that UVA is also bad for you and can cause cancer; previously it was only believed to age skin. This came as quite a shock to me as in Egypt this year we used an excellent once-a-day sun cream, Reitman P20, that gave us a lovely tan. The reason it could do this with the temperature in the low 20s and it being January is because it didn't block any UVA rays at all and that was its selling point! I have third hand evidence that says Boots have stopped selling it because it offers no UVA protection which would make sense. In Kos we used Piz Buin's new once-a-day cream with a UVB rating of SPF 30 and 3 stars for UVA and never got burned at all (although we did practise safe sun). You would think fours stars would be better than three but it seems that the UVA ratings are not that straight forward: "this is only a rough guide because it is also affected by the SPF. A cream with SPF 25 and 3 stars may give more UVA protection overall than a cream with SPF 10 and 4 stars". Also the UVB system isn't as simple as 'factor 15 increases the time you can spend in the sun by a factor of 15', i.e. 15 minutes times 15 = 3 hours 45 minutes. Using SPF 15 will let through 7% of harmful UVB rays, SPF 30 lets only 4% through and SPF 60 only 2% (the highest protection you can get). The key thing about the Piz Buin once-a-day product is that is won't rub off or get washed away (up to 80 minutes in water). That way SPF 30 should last seven hours but considering the need to take shade during 12pm until 2pm, you'd be hard pushed to be out in the sun that long. One last thing, you *do* need sun cream in Scotland - the Scottish Parliament haven't managed to strike a deal with Mother Nature not to cause skin cancer in Scotland!

16 June 2006

Labour Sucession Scrapped as British Nazis Revolt

It seems England is a nation of xenophobic nazis. Well something like that anyway. Blair has apparently put more concrete plans down as far as his exit as PM goes, he's not going to do anything stupid like wait for Iraq to settle down. The problem is that it turns that Gordon Brown, the only person allowed to become the next PM, screw democracy we have a ten year old deal, would cause a riot in the streets of England if he was given the job. An ICM poll last month showed that 55% of English people thought it was wrong to have a Scottish PM. Alex Salmond, leader again of the Scottish National Party (rename yourselves for God's sake!), got it right when he said it was bad news for Labour. "It means the current prime minister is deeply unpopular in Scotland while the future prime minister is unacceptable in England". Quite accurate, however Labour dispute this essentially saying 'Screw you, Gordon is still becoming the PM before the next election whether you like it or not'. The official words were "The people of Britain will pick the next prime minister based on his ability to deliver a strong and stable economy...", which would need some form of Chancellor... Just to pick up on that statement if as expected, Tony finally does the decent thing and leaves before the next election the the people of Britain will *not* pick the next PM, the Labour MPs will, just like the Conservative MPs selected John Major to be Prime Minister first time around. Finally, where does that leave the other parties? Does this make Dave Cameron a shoe-in to win the next election? Will the SNP and BNP start playing the race card? The SNP would plausibly use the argument that the best Scottish MP should be in Scotland, not England, full independence now! The BNP (the bad ones) may also use the line 'English PM for English government' although it's a lot less likely. Will the new breed of conservatives use a similar tract? They did get a higher percentage of the votes in England in the last election. This leads me nicely on to my connected thought (coming next week)...

15 June 2006

Is This The Break Marseille Were Looking For?

It's never fun to good to break your leg, especially not when it's the third time in five years. Sadly this is what happened to Djibril Cisse days before the start of the World Cup. That freak accident has blown any chance of him leaving Liverpool this summer and dented Rafael Benitez's transfer budget. Or at least, that's how it seemed a few days ago. Rumours are circulating that Marseille are still keen on signing Cisse despite being our of action for the next four or five months. Lyon, under the management of Gerard Houllier, the man who brought Cisse to Liverpool, were the favourites to sign him as they could pay so much more than Marseille. In fact the word on the street was that Marseille were going to try to convince Liverpool to take Cisse on loan for a year to save up his transfer fee for next summer. Lyon are really out of the race and it's that break that Marseille were looking for. They can now negotiate with Liverpool the loan/permanent deal they were after without being out bid by Lyon. Liverpool will be very keen on it as last week they thought they wouldn't be able to sell Cisse this year. Finally Liverpool should also benefit by demanding that they get the young French midfielder Samir Nasri on loan for a year with a view to a permanent move.

They're Going Home, They're Going Home; Nestlé Are Going Home!

As reported yesterday, Nestlé, through their product Perrier, has terminated their contract of sponsorship of the Edinburgh Fringe's Comedy Awards (commonly known as the Perrier Awards). A couple of years ago Robert Newman created the Tap Water Awards in protest at Nestle and other supporters include Mark Thomas and The Bongo Club. Mark said today (not to me though, to The Scotsman) "The work of activists, highlighting Nestlé's aggressive marketing of powdered baby milk in the developing world and the consequences of this, must be a factor in the company's decision to quit the Festival". No comment has yet been made as to whether or not the Tap Water Awards will continue. The main Fringe award will now be called the "if.commedies" following sponsorship from Intelligent Finance, a wholly owned company of Halifax, the same ones who own the Bank of Scotland, the ones who tried to set up a deal with US ultra-conservative evangelist Pat Robertson, the one who described feminism as a "socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice [sic] witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians". Ah. It seems there is always a skeleton in the closet of big business.

2006 *IS* The Year of Crytozoology - Next Up the Mongolian Death Worm!

This is just incredible! Before I tell you what exactly is incredible, let me give you a brief history lesson. 30 years and 2 months ago, if you suggested that there was a large, strange shark out there so different from other sharks it deserved its own family (let alone genus), you'd be laughed at. In May 1976 the unusual Megamouth Shark was caught, proving the myths correct. Fast forward to 2004. Wander around proclaiming that there's this strange giant ape in the DR Congo the is the size of a gorilla and nests on the ground like a gorilla *but* mainly eats fruit and walks upright (both like a chimp) and you'd be laughed at. No matter how many eye witness accounts from natives you can produce you'd get the same response back, "it's a case of Chinese whispers". Then in October 2004 New Scientist publish an article detailing Shelly Williams's encounter with the Bili Apes (or Bondo Mystery Ape). Finally back to 2006 and we have had a plethora of rumoured species and cryptids discovered and documented. A month ago it turns out a new species of monkey isn't ... it's a new genus, the first for 83 years. Whilst on holiday eight unknown insects are discovered in a cave in Israel that has been sealed off from the rest of world for around five million years. This weekend a new type of hammerhead shark is discovered in the Atlantic Ocean and then today, oh boy, pictures of a live giant rat deemed extinct eleven million years ago is published! Locals in Lao new about it and didn't dispute its existence but science dismissed it until dead specimens were found on a market a year ago.

What could possibly be next? For the past few years there has been efforts to find the "extinct" Tasmanian Tiger (or Thylacine) and a German tourist successfully managed to grab digital photographs of it in 2005 but as yet not body. In recent years the blue tiger and extinct moa have been seen in india and New Zealand respectively, as documented by Karl Shuker in his excellent book The Beasts That Hide From Man. There have been a few expeditions to the Mongolian Chinese border to hunt for the Mongolian Death Worm - that would be my number one choice for the best animal to "discover" next. A close second comes some form of living dinosaur like mokele-mbembe in the Congo...

14 June 2006

All Official World Cup Footballers Should Be Drunk and Fat

Budweiser (that American pale lager) is proud to sponsor the World Cup in Germany - no authentic beers here! McDonalds are also also proud to sponsor the FIFA World Cup 2006. What rubbish! If I had enough money does that mean I can make foot cancer the "official" cancer of the World Cup? If Budweiser and McDonald's want to sponsor the World Cup, Premiership or East of Scotland Sunday League then they should be forced to adhere to new guidelines. To be the "official" partner (or even just casual date) of any event that product should be used during the tournament - and not just by the fans. Before taking to the pitch for each half the players should be forced to scoff a Big Mac and then 'neck' a Bud. They'd soon ditch having "official" things that are detrimental to anyone. Then again some players may like gorging themselves on burgers before the game. Please insert your own joke about Wayne Rooney or Ronaldo here.

Update: It seems when PhillG.com speaks, the world listens and then reacts. Two days after this story was written public health doctors writing in the Lancet has questioned the inclusion of companies such as (specifically) McDonald's or Budweiser.

13 June 2006

Dear BBC, I Have A Complaint About Your Double Dutch...

Dear EBC (English Broadcasting Corporation), I have a complaint about the Dutch. No, not the new political party promoting the dropping of the age of consent to 12, either because they have a paedophile agenda as some news agencies have described or because they intend on pushing the boundaries of free speech. My complaint is the incorrect use of the name "Holland" to describe the football team from The Kingdom of the Netherlands. Twelve countries make up the Netherlands, two of them are called North and South Holland. Neither are the biggest however combined they are. All of Europe refers to their footballing team correctly as the Netherlands, yet the BBC continue with the apparent short-sightedness of referring to them as Holland. Sincerely, Phill G.

Dear Phill G, It's a fair cop; you got us guv'nor. We have a blog posting trying to explain this and we certainly didn't mean any offence. Sincerely, The BBC.

My Comments from the Blog: It is a common mis-use in the UK that Holland = The Netherlands, just like in many countries it is a common misconception that England = Great Britain. As an Englishman proudly calling Scotland my home I would be devastated if I heard any country us the rational that we might as well call the GB Olympic team England because most people refer to it that way. Furthermore just because it's a common mistake doesn't mean it's okay (that's why I have correct apostrophe's in my post). As for the argument that the Netherlands call their team Holland, that's certainly not what it says on their badges or on the FIFA World Cup Site. Maybe BBC Four could cover the World Cup and Jullian Fellows could host it?

Most Interesting Other Comment from the Blog: Another common mistake I've heard is many commentators referring to Shevchenko's team as "the Ukraine" instead of just "Ukraine."

English Football Hooligans Don't Need to be in Germnay...

Having seen the government confiscated 2,000 people's passports to prevent them from flying to Germany, the BBC then score a *massive* own goal, harming any future bid for the World Cup. I know what you are thinking. Surely it can't be the UK Home Office that confiscated the passports, the same one that seems to be so inept they couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery (something I can very proudly say I have done by the way)? It seems so, there must one or two competent people working there. I digress, back to the BBC. In several cities they have installed huge screens to broadcast the England's games on. In the very respectable area of Canary Wharf there was massive fighting with 16 arrests and at the top of Liverpool's busiest shopping street two people were arrest. It is mind-blowing stupidity from the BBC. The games are all on terrestrial TV and for some reason they decide to create nine mini football stadiums around the country that you don't need tickets to attend and there are no security preventing bottles or anything else being brought in to the area and thrown. Canary Wharf will now be used for tennis, there are no plans for what to do with the Liverpool screen (and if anyone posts a comment saying they can use it broadcast pictures from Crime Watch I'll personally give them a slap). The only thing this really proved is the "barbaric" Scots are far more civilised than the English - there wasn't a single arrest or any trouble there, it's as if they didn't care it was happening.

12 June 2006

Ed Fringe In Meltdown Non-Shocker!

Exactly the same as last year - very sad. Tickets went on sale over the internet at 10am, the box office opened at 12pm. After two and a half hours trying to book via the web, and being phenomenally patient, I failed. All I tried to do was click Book Tickets, then select the number or tickets, then Add to Basket. I had three attempts per show (about 20 shows) and each time in finally returned an error. It took approximately 50 minutes each time to get from Book Tickets to Error. :-( Then, forty minutes after the box office opened and twenty minutes after their phone lines collapsed (I'm sorry but the number you are dialling is currently out of order), I got through to a human being. All times were literally the same as what happened last year, including the phone lines going unreachable. Does this mean they simply haven't learnt from their past mistakes? Why not make tickets go on sale at 4am and thereby heavily reduce the initial rush? Of course, I'm happy now, I have all time tickets *except* for Mark Thomas :-( I have a very cunning plan for that one-night-only show. Until the Film Festival tickets go on sale and I go through the same disaster again, I will sit smugly knowing my festival shopping is done (and a damn sight harder it is that Christmas)!

11 June 2006

Wigan Will Stay Up, Place Your Bets On It Now!

Wigan Warriors are slumped sadly at the bottom of Super League with a measly four points, six points adrift of Les Catalan Dragons and they are immune from relegation! Fortunately, Wakefield Wildcats are also on ten points and with only two points for a win it looks bad for Wigan. However two okay matches against St Helens and Leeds seem to show Wigan are on the verge of turning the corner. If you look at the next four games for Wakefield it would be nearly a miracle if the got anything from them: Warrington (A), Leeds (A), St Helens (H) and the crunch match away at Wigan. Contrast this to Wigan's run of Catalan Dragons (H), Warrington (H), Harlequins (A) and then of course Wakefield (H). When the hooter goes at about 9:45 on Friday 7th July I confidently predict Wigan will be off the bottom of the table. Will it be Catalan or Wakefield who finish bottom? I can't be sure but I might be willing to gamble a few quid on both them right now as Paddy Power has them in at roughly 3 to 1.

UPDATE: No sooner had I typed these words, then the legend Kris Radlinkski makes his decision to come out of retirement to make sure Wigan avoid relegation! This may cause further long term damage to his knee but he's willing to sacrifice it to protect a club that has given him everything. Not just that but he is doing it for free, he has expressly said he does not want paying (which is good because Wigan have used up all their salary cap). What's next, Andy Farrell to recover from injury and switch codes back to Wigan?

9 June 2006

Time For Edinburgh Festival 2006 ... Here Are The Highlights

The Official Fringe guide now and is available online too with tickets going on sale from 10am (online) and 12pm (box office) this Monday. Here are, IMHO, the highlights. First off, if you only go and see a couple of people, make sure it includes genius of Demetri Martin, the manic hyperactivity of "nearly gay" Phil Nichol and the one-night only political comic Mark Thomas. After that try experimenting with a few young people. Nominated for the Perrier Best Newcomer last year we have Michael McIntyre, the winner of the Newcomer award Austrialian musician Tim Minchin, the physical craziness of the Caesar Twins and the Korean martial arts comedy of last year's huge hit Jump (if you've already seen Japan's Gamarjobat). Traditional stand up comes from arguably the best British comedian on the circuit, Andrew Maxwell.

On to more established and guaranteed shows, Talk Radio starring winner of last year's Best Actor award Phil Nichol (yes the comic from above), the legendary Mike McShane, winner of the Perrier Award in 2004 Will Adamsdale and so many more. Oh yes, it's also Stewart Lee's first directing since Jerry Springer The Opera. It will be one of the most talked about shows of the year. Ed Byrne is playing as always and no doubt he'll sell out faster than ever. NewsRevue is the world's longest running comedy show and every year it has delivered excellent sketches, far better than the rubbish littering TV at the moment.

Finally we have several new-ish performers who are well worth a look especially Russell Howard, Dutch Elm Conservatoire (strangely nominated for the Perrier last year even though they do not fit the criteria), Andrew Lawrence, Mark Watson, Will Smith (saw last year) and finally Sarah Kendall (my god, a woman, two years after seeing the awful Lucy Porter!). If you are looking for something a bit more mainstream try Danny Bhoy and Jeff Green. Robin Ince is worth a look if you've never seen him before. There are some free BBC Radio shows with a "Best of the Fest" line up, you just need to grab the tickets in advance.

For those other people like me who enjoy the odd film, the Edinburgh International Film Festival launches on Wednesday 12th July with tickets going on sale on the Friday. Stay tuned for my updates for that ;-)

8 June 2006

Cinema: It's The Experience That Counts (Against It)

Pirated DVDs won't be the only place to see X-Men: The Last Stand this summer. Some people will chose to watch on a much bigger screen and pay over the cost of the DVD for one showing. The sound levels will be beyond their control and the dialogue will be continually interrupted by the stupid female students to the left of me chatting or the bloody Americans behind me chomping popcorn with their mouth open and trying to remember the name of the actor that plays Frasier. What's more should nature call suddenly, nobody will pause the film so you can go to the bathroom. You'll have to walk past whoever is making a recording of the film. You won't even be able to fast forward through the final credits to catch the very final scene. Cinema: Last night's experienced sucked. No match for the privacy of DVDs.

1 June 2006

Biological Wonders: My Two Left Arms and The Girl Who Never Died

Two very unusual and interesting stories have come out in the last two days. Firstly we have the young Chinese boy who was born with three arms, two of them left. It seems one is under-developed and the bigger one has no palm. When either of his left arms are touched he cries. Doctors have now removed the smaller arm but I would have left him with all three, especially as neither of them seem to be full functional. He would have been an expert shoplifter or pick-pocket! In even grimmer news it seems the parents of a young woman comatosed from a car crash have had a bit of a shock - she's not their daughter. They've been looking after her for two weeks and when she finally woke up she revealed she was a similar (but far from identical) looking girl. Doctors then realised the error and told the parents that their daughter is actually six feet under the ground with someone else's headstone on top. Needless to say the other family a elated, but call me cynical if you like, I have to expect a dual lawsuit some point soon.